From Demos to Ducks: Jefferson grads get UO scholarships


After decades of reform efforts at Jefferson High School, Portland Public School leaders are making the biggest commitment to success at the school.

In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, school leaders said that starting this fall, graduates of the new Jefferson High School-Middle College for Advanced Studies are guaranteed get a scholarship to the University of Oregon for three years.

There are just two qualifications: Students must be financially eligible for a federal Pell Grant. (Students with a total family income up to $50,000 may be eligible for Pell Grants, though most Pell funding goes to students with a total family income below $20,000.) And students must have earned one year of transferrable PCC college credits, since the scholarship covers UO tuition for the last three years. In-state tuition is about $9,000 per year.

Students may earn the credits by taking college classes across the street at the PCC-Cascade Campus during the course of their Jefferson studies. They have the option to take just a few college classes or earn up to a year's worth (45 credits).

PPS, UO and PCC leaders laud the deal as a seamless transition to college, 'a model of an innovative partnership between school districts and higher education that creates a fully integrated pathway for student success, from kindergarten to college,' said Superintendent Carole Smith.

Jefferson students may enter UO with the scholarship directly after graduation, or after completing a one- or two-year program at PCC.

The University of Oregon is funding the scholarship entirely. The partnership came together during the past two months after university leaders approached the district, PPS spokesman Matt Shelby said.

Jefferson will continue to offer the performing arts, athletics and campus activities. Jefferson is open to students who live within the attendance boundaries and others who may apply by lottery.

Students who enter UO through the scholarship will receive academic advising, counseling, mentoring and peer support, and mentor other Jefferson graduates. UO staff will support Jefferson with embedded college experiences, financial aid information and campus visits.