Phillips scholars create summer programs for youth, families


Jazmine Darden designed a summer program to encourage urban students, including many students of color, to learn more about opportunities in the STEM fields, specifically engineering. Through “Bridgin’ the Gap,” students in kindergarten through eighth grade discovered new information about structural engineering through bridge-building activities.

Jazmine Darden

Darden, who is from Brooklyn Park and attends Augsburg College, is one of six Minnesota Private College students chosen to complete a community outreach project as a part of the Phillips Scholars Program. The Phillips Scholars Program is a competitive scholarship initiative that asks college students to propose and then implement a service project to meet an unmet community need. The funds available to selected students total $16,500 in the form of scholarships and stipends from the Jay and Rose Phillips Foundation.

“The program has been a source of great pride for the Phillips family and the foundation. It provides an opportunity for innovative and adventurous young people to explore work in the nonprofit sector that identifies and addresses real community needs,” said Patrick Troska, executive director of The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota. “The tremendous lessons learned from this program prepare scholars for a lifetime of service to their communities.”

Shantrice King
Photos courtesy of Minnesota Private College Council

Shantrice King spent the summer working with youth in Faribault, most of whom were recent immigrants, to produce a magazine for young people. King implemented her “The Courage to Write” project with the goal of developing strong writing skills and a passion for literacy among the students who participated. King is from New York and will be a senior at Carleton College this year.

Along with Darden’s and King’s efforts, this summer’s projects addressed a variety of communities and needs:

Amanda McNaughton educated mothers and children about school readiness this summer through her “Skills for School” program. Focused on literacy and social skills, the project targeted about 15 mothers with children between three and five years of age and who reside at East Metro Place in White Bear Lake. McNaughton will be a senior at the University of St. Thomas and is from Mahtomedi.

Ellen Nikodym designed a program to maintain and enhance the literacy skills of youth in grades five through eight over the summer. St. Paul youth involved in “Reading Takes Center Stage” had opportunities to learn about poetry, theater and creative writing to build upon their existing reading and writing abilities. Nikodym is from St. Louis and will be a senior at Macalester College.

Jodi Stumpner partnered with a diverse group of middle and high school students this summer to co-teach underserved youth about ecology. “Eco Education for Underprivileged Youth” also focused on introducing students from White Bear Lake to the STEM fields. Stumpner, who is from North St. Paul, will be a senior at St. Catherine University.

Serena Xiong facilitated a community project to educate Latino and Hmong families in Brooklyn Center about radon awareness. Xiong chose these two communities for her “Hmong and Latino Radon Education” project because they are underserved in public health education and are at high risk for developing lung cancer due to high radon levels in the area. Xiong will be a senior at St. Olaf College and is from Brooklyn Center.

“For nearly two decades, we’ve been proud to partner with the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation,” said Minnesota Private College Council President Paul Cerkvenik. “This program is special not just because it awards students money for college, but because it also provides them with the opportunity to create and facilitate an original project that will help others. We’ve now seen 100 Phillips Scholars complete their project and each one has offered something unique to the community.”

The Phillips Scholarship Program not only gives students the opportunity to make change in their communities today, it also fosters a lifelong commitment to service and leadership, Cerkvenik added.


This information was provided by Minnesota Private College Council.