Judith Berry Griffin, founder and president of Pathways to College, recently received the 2008 Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education for her work in paving the way for increased higher education access and success for students of color.
Each year, the McGraw Prize recognizes individuals who have dedicated themselves to enhancing learning and are making a difference today. Each winner receives a gift of $25,000 and a bronze sculpture.
The prize was established in 1988 to honor Harold W. McGraw Jr.’s lifelong commitment to education, and to mark the 100th anniversary of the McGraw-Hill Companies.
Based in Wellesley, Pathways to College identifies talented children of color in underserved high schools. For four years, the students attend a special twice-weekly after-school program that offers coaching in study skills, writing and critical thinking. First piloted in 1992 and incorporated as an independent nonprofit in 2003, the program has provided direct services to some 2,100 students, and has reached hundreds more at program sites where Pathways to College Scholars act as role models helping to create a culture where it’s “cool to be smart.”
Many Pathways graduates go on to selective four-year colleges such as Wellesley, Smith, Stanford, Hampshire and the University of Chicago.
“This award is for ‘my children,’” Griffin said, referring to the Pathways to College scholars. “My children have dreams, and their dreams must be caught and cultivated today if they are to contribute to America’s tomorrow. For too long, their gifts have been unopened and unused. But dismissing the contents because the package is difficult to unwrap is a luxury our nation can no longer afford.”
Prior to founding Pathways to College, Griffin was president of A Better Chance. She also is a children’s book author, a former school principal and an appointee in the U.S. Department of Education.
The two other 2008 McGraw honorees were Richard Blais, vice president and co-founder of Project Lead the Way, and Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the California State University system.