Student support and mentoring
Our Scholars program is a student support and mentoring program for first generation students interested in pursuing education beyond highschool. Our goal is to see youth embrace their God-given gifts and dreams and build the skills and connections needed to put those dreams into action.
Most of our students are the first in their families to pursue higher education. For them to be successful, we know it takes more than money. Our scholars program is about accompaniment — connecting with youth and their families, bridging relationships with schools, and building cohorts of students who can be a support to one another.
We currently administer two programs for eligible students in Eastern Washington:
RISE stands for Resilient, Inspired, Student Engagement. In this program, students are admitted into a two-year cohort and enroll in full-time coursework at Columbia Basin College (CBC). The cohort meets regularly throughout the year, serving as an invaluable community of support for students as they learn to navigate college life, while also offering guidance around finding one’s gifts and call in the world. This program is currently open to residents of the Tierra Vida community in East Pasco.
FirstFruits offers scholarships funds to children of FirstFruits Farms and FirstFruits Community employees, collaborating with VHF to administer the program and provide ongoing student support and engagement. Students who enroll at Columbia Basin College (CBC) are included in our cohort program, providing further support to them in servant leadership, personal planning, and goal setting. Students interested in agriculture and the trades are particularly encouraged to apply.
The role of community engagement
Both programs require ongoing community service and engagement. Over the years, we have learned that the most successful students have built up networks of support, both on and off campus. The purpose of community service is less about the activity chosen than it is about the intentional effort made by each student to identify an issue or cause that is important to them and to connect with people outside of their regular school routine. On campus, student cohorts offer a closer peer community so that they have someone to turn to in times of need and know that they are not alone.
We consider community engagement as foundational to student growth and success. As students engage in the community around them, they build supportive relationships that serve them well into the future.