A while back we had the privilege of connecting with an organization called Arete Scholars which is doing some really great work providing scholarship opportunities in classical schools for kids from low-income situations. The more we chatted with them, and in particular board member, Derek Monjure, the more our two organizations seemed a natural fit, so we wanted to give Derek a chance to introduce Arete and the good work they’re doing.
I asked him some questions and he answered.
1. What is the purpose of Arete Scholars?
Arete Scholars exists to open doors to opportunity, where before, none existed. Veteran, statesman, and teacher John W. Gardner wrote, “Great gifts unused, even unsuspected, are hardly a rarity. No doubt there have always been a great many men and women of extraordinary talent who have died with all their music in them.” Everyone of us – from the most accomplished to the most common – was imbued with unique gifts, talents, abilities, and aptitudes from God the Father. We were all created with purpose and for a purpose. Gifts unused. Talents unsuspected. Music unplayed. This is the tragedy we strive to fight against. We believe Christian classical education to be one of our greatest weapons in this fight.
The door we open is the opportunity to attend private K-12 school, through scholarships, for under-supported families where financial stresses have kept the door closed. Once that door is open, the opportunity exists for students to discover and nurture their unique gifts, their affections. If we are able to keep students through the rhetoric stage, they should have learned to order their loves rightly, exhibit wisdom and use their gifts to impact the world around them, leaving an indelible mark for generations to come.
2. What led to the creation of Arete Scholars? What was your motivation in starting it?
The primary motivation for starting Arete derived from our work in launching Dominion Classical, a Christian classical school in Dacula, GA, in 2005. Greg Beadles and I had spent a couple of years gathering information planning the start of Dominion and then began to hold informational meetings. It was during these meetings that we met families that desperately wanted a Christian, classical education for their children but through one turn or another, simply didn’t have the means to provide it. We had made it a point from the beginning to tithe on our operational budget in order to provide financial assistance. We learned quickly that demand far outstripped supply and that this was the case for many private schools in our area.
We have operated initially under legislation enabling tax credits or rebates to be gained from making donations directly to our organization. We’ve been operational for over five years now and have honed our processes for administering scholarships. Our intention is to broaden and serve Christian, classical schools through straight charitable giving nationwide.
3. What solutions does Arete offer communities where educational success is sometimes relatively rare, such as those parts of Georgia and North Carolina?
Primarily, we are a scholarship granting organization. We provide scholarships to students from families that are under-supported and underserved. Arete focuses on families of lower economic means whose only educational option is the one tied to their zip code. Additionally, we partner with local private schools and help families find a match that best serves their children. Expanding our work through charitable giving will allow us to focus on Christian, classical schools through scholarships, providing a classical option for lower income households where none now exists. Potentially, we hope to provide services or grants to help launch schools, providing a sound financial and operational model for long-term growth.
4. What kind of schools does Arete work with?
We have worked with a broad range of independent K-12 schools. Our aim is to provide the broadest range of freedom and liberty for families to choose the best option for their child. The typical family Arete serves is a household of five with one guardian and a gross income of $24-28,000. I have sat with countless parents or guardians from these families who earnestly want to dispel the perception that they are not concerned with how their children are educated. The concern is present. The ability to act is absent. The one thing we have not been able to do nearly often enough, is to point to an available Christian, classical option. We desperately want that to change.
5. How can CiRCE readers be involved?
Any CiRCE reader attending the conference can stop by and talk to me. We will be launching a campaign shortly, in mid-June, (http://aretescholars.org/heroes) in which anyone can participate. Christian, classical education is a movement that we all believe in. With crowd sourcing, we can raise money to offer scholarships to students that otherwise would not have an opportunity to attain a classical education. We believe in the power of the many and further that this campaign can help the movement reach into nooks and crannies where it too often has not been present. This will be just the start of our charitable efforts so watch our site for more information as we continue to grow. Join our campaign and become a hero for Christian, classical education.