A writing mentorship program that was started in Hana will soon expand to help students in Missouri write college scholarship essays.

Journalist Tad Bartimus founded Talk Story, Write Story in 1998 to help low-income Native Hawaiian high school students get college scholarships. In 2013, the program expanded to help high-schoolers in Alaska.

Bartimus is now bringing the program to Missouri at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, which is providing funding for the program. It’s a partnership with the Columbia Daily Tribune and Columbia Public Schools. Columbia high school students will be paired with journalists to be their mentors, as well as other members from the community.

Tad and Miracle
Tad Bartimus with Miracle Helekahi, a 2011 graduate of Hana High and a Gates Millennium Scholar. Talk Story, Write Story

“It is an opportunity to get to know these kids and their families better, to become more familiar with their struggles as well as their dreams,” Bartimus said in a press release.

Between Alaska and Hawaii, 250 students have been awarded $6 million in scholarships to 50 different colleges and universities. In recent years, several Hana High School students have earned college scholarships, including 12 who became Gates Millennium Scholars, according to the press release.

Bartimus hopes the partnership with the Columbia Daily Tribune will set an example for newspaper staffs to help low-income students pay for college. Meanwhile, the mentoring program will help journalists become more familiar with the lives of young people and their families in their community.

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