Many companies and individual donors provide support for youth programs at science centers around the country. I have worked with many over my years at different museums and they all bring sincerity and hope at some level to their support.
But I have never had the experience of working with a company and individuals quite so dedicated, visionary, and personally engaged and committed as those around the Miracle-Gro Capital Scholars program. Today’s feature story in The Columbus Dispatch shares the special story of how the Hagedorn family and the Scotts Miracle-Gro company (where Jim Hagedorn is CEO) have made an incredible commitment to help youth make a fundamental change in their lives in partnership with COSI and others.
When I first came to COSI in early 2006, I brought the experiences of both museum leadership and an earlier career teaching—including many years in what could be chaotic middle school classrooms. I was told about the recent partnership COSI had entered into at the request of the Hagedorns and Scotts Miracle-Gro company. So I stopped in to meet the youth (most 6th graders at the time I believe) and was brought up short. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into—drawing upon my classroom years and experiences, many with youth from troubled backgrounds. I saw a great hope and aspiration for the program, but I also saw a room full of children from the inner city with many personal and collective challenges. I wondered how we were ever going to hold up our part of the bargain of assisting with their development and journey through high school and college success.
Through the doggedness and commitment of particularly Sue Hagedorn with her family, the company and its employees behind her, and the COSI staff who joined us to provide the program coordination and personal support, I’ve seen an incredible group of individual stories unfold. I’ve also had the pleasure of getting to know many of the youth personally—as best as I can stopping in on their activities at COSI and attending their milestone celebrations. I’ve watched them grow over my six years in ways that provide the satisfaction of watching a young person’s accomplishments that I have not felt since my teaching days.
The Dispatch feature does a good job of objectively calling out some of the individual stories. The young adults are still working their way to a goal that would most likely have been unattainable had it not been for the vision and incredible personal generosity of the Hagedorn family and Scotts Miracle-Gro. The generosity went way beyond money and into personal time, mentoring by employees, and collective tough love decisions between the Hagedorns and COSI program leaders.
The COSI team highlighted in the feature, led by Dr. Kim Kiehl, also brought a level of personal caring that I’ve come to know COSI team members to have in abundance. Each member was personally committed to each youth and acted in that manner.
At the end of the day, it will be the personal actions and decisions of each one of the young adults, many representing their families as a first time college student that will determine their success as productive citizens and individuals. But I am proud to see how a unique partnership between a philanthropic family, a committed company and employees, and a science center and its team members, can come together over an extended time to make a difference in individual lives.
The stories will continue, but I’m glad to see this special story to date out there for others to read.
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