Restoring our culture’s focus on winning in academics

During the 1970s when Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Dr. Alan Page became known as one of football’s most tenacious defenders for the famed “purple people eating” Minnesota Vikings, he found himself feeling unfulfilled by athletic accolades. He wanted to impact mankind outside the field of sports. The Page Foundation was established in 1988 to help students of color to stay in school and participate in post-secondary education.

“The Page Foundation came about, in the very real sense, as a way for me to give meaning to my induction to the Football Hall of Fame,” explained Page. “I wasn’t interested in only being recognized for my past football days. TheFoundation was a way to give meaning to that recognition.”

Justice Page also believed that the educational system was failing to reach many minority youth, and that the youth and their parents were giving up hope for a better life through education. He envisioned the Page Foundation creating change through cultivating hope.

“For some reason we seem to undervalue and under-emphasize education as a culture,” said Page. “Sometimes we pay lip service to it. But we don’t take concrete steps to impress upon our young children the value and importance of education. The Page Education Foundation, through our Page Scholars, pays homage to the value of education and a very direct and personal way.”

Just how has the Page Foundation helped children?

“Beyond providing financial assistance to our scholars, which is a real plus for them, we require those scholars to go back into the community where they come from to send the message that education is important,” Page noted.

Scholars send that message twofold, said Page. First, by working with younger children in the area of education as mentors and role models and secondly, by being prime examples of someone using education to their advantage.

Through the dedication of its founders, its volunteer board of directors, advisory board, its staff and a legion of other volunteers, the Foundation has positively affected huge numbers of young people.  Its faithful supporters have enabled the number of Page Scholars to grow from ten during the first year, to 580 this year. 5,681 Page Grants have been awarded to 2,667 individual students.

Page Scholars have volunteered in nearly 600 schools and community organizations, serving over 8,000 children involved in the “service-to-children” projects. Over eighty Page Scholars have attended, or are currently attending, graduate schools including law school and medical school.

Who are these Page Scholars? They are 60% female and 40% male. They are ethnically diverse: 60% African American, 26% Asian American, 12% Chicano, Latino and 2% American Indian.

In response to the notion of Black student athletes seen dominating the fields and courts of universities around the country being “unscholarly jocks,” only concerned with their stat sheets, Page vividly remembers silencing the critics by breaking the mold. He sees no reason why the two attributes cannot coexist.

“As long as I can remember and I think well beyond that, we have viewed athletes as

March 10, 2006
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