Linfield gives at-risk school children their first taste of college

While campus was quiet last summer, children from the nation’s first “I Have a Dream” school paid an overnight visit to Linfield. Check out the VIDEO and read an Oregonian story about Principal Paz Ramos ’84, a Linfield alum who directs the project.

Alder Elementary School is the second highest school in Oregon for poverty. Its adoption by the “I Have a Dream” Foundation-Oregon means Alder students will be given the support and skills necessary to graduate from college, a huge challenge considering that less than 15 percent of them currently graduate from high school. The 580 students, including 120 homeless children, will be tracked for the next 15 years.

“I tell my kids Alder Elementary is where college begins,” says Ramos, who identifies with children at the Portland school. He grew up in a migrant family, harvesting fruits and vegetables throughout the West. His struggle to get a college education has given him a fierce determination to help his school children envision a life outside the violent, impoverished neighborhoods where they live.

“I’m so grateful for my college experience,” Paz says. “My Linfield professors and coaches trusted me and invested in me, and they gave me hope. That’s what we want to do for our kids at Alder.

Students from six nearby colleges, including Linfield, will mentor Alder children. During their visit to Linfield, they attended science labs, tossed Frisbees on the field where Ramos once played football, and slept overnight.