“Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” That quote by Horace Mann, the first president of Antioch College, is a guiding principle for Shari Foos. As a student in AULA’s bachelor’s program in the 90s (and later the graduate Psychology program), she was taken by Paolo Freire’s work illustrating the ability of illiterate, impoverished adults to become empowered critical-thinkers when given the tools of education. When Foos learned of Bard College’s Clemente Course offering free college classes to the underserved, she became eager to help AULA realize its potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of non-traditional students.
“The idea of Paolo Freire’s work and ‘be ashamed to die,’ were rolling around in my head as I was finishing my clinical training hours [to become a therapist]. I read about the Clemente Course, and came up with the money to support the program – all of this came together at the same time,” explains Foos.
This perfect storm of vision and opportunity resulted in AULA’s Bridge Program (first called CHE), which Foos founded in 1999. The Program offers free courses in the humanities to low-income adults, providing them with the intellectual tools and personal confidence to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Many have gone on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. One former Bridge student recently graduated from Yale University.
The Bridge Program is primarily funded by donors, who believe in the transformative powers of higher education. “Supporting Bridge is a unique chance to literally change people’s lives,” says Foos, who also holds a Master of Science in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University. “This program leads to profound changes in the quality of people’s lives and their empowerment as citizens,” she notes. “That’s huge.”
To learn more about making a gift to AULA’s Bridge Program, or other giving opportunities, please contact Dennis M. Robinson, Director of Institutional Advancement, at (310) 578-1080 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.