Young Scholars Program Receives Significant Emerson Gift


[St. Louis, Mo.]—Maryville University’s Young Scholars program has received funding to ensure its continued success over the next four years through a $200,000 gift from Emerson. The Maryville program is designed to increase participation by minority and low-income youth in gifted programs.

Now in its fifth year, the Young Scholars program identifies the top 10 percent of students in grades K-3 in terms of ability several area schools, and provides teachers with professional development to better serve these high ability students. The program also offers opportunities for students to participate in a month-long summer academy, as well as tools and strategies for parents of high-ability children. At least half of the program’s students will eventually qualify for gifted programs through a state pilot policy agreement.

“When kids are very bright, they don’t tend to be challenged in school and can go unrecognized,” says Steve Coxon, PhD, assistant professor of education at Maryville. “Gifted education is important but there’s a gap in access. This program changes the lives of kids who otherwise wouldn’t get this opportunity. It also changes the community by developing future community leaders.”

Young Scholars has grown from one to four schools, including three in the Ferguson-Florissant School District and one in the St. Louis Public School District. The program currently serves 90 children and more will be included in 2015. The Young Scholars model is also available to other school districts. Webster Groves School District already implements a version of the program, and Parkway School District is currently adapting it for future use.

“We want these schools to be models for others to take it on with their own funding,” Coxon says. “We are seeking funding for the very high-poverty districts, but every district can benefit.”

Emerson has supported Young Scholars for the past two years, and is now committed to an additional four years of funding. Other significant contributors include The Saigh Foundation and the Dana Brown Charitable Trust. AT&T and the Ryan Howard Family Foundation have provided additional support.