To bring together caring adults and talented, under-resourced children to make the dream of a college degree a reality.
Marathon Scholars believes that higher education is life changing and should be accessible to all who aspire. We believe that personal, long-term relationships have the ability to transform the lives of both our Scholars and their mentors.
- We believe that opportunity can change a life.
- We desire to share experience and good fortune with kids who have less.
- We believe in the need to act; not just discuss.
- We desire to have a direct, long-term impact on the life of a child.
- We desire to expand a child’s view of the possible.
- We believe that a mentor’s participation will benefit the mentor as much or more than the Scholar.
Marathon was founded in Portland, Oregon, by eight friends on September 11, 2002. In the aftermath of the events of 9/11, these friends were united by their desire to make a meaningful difference in their community. Struck by the low high school and college graduation rates among children from low-income families, they developed a model of a long-term, one-on-one relationship between a child (“Scholar”) and an adult (“Partner”).
The organization’s original name, Marathon Education Partners, reflected its mission. “Marathon” signified that the journey to college for a child is much like an actual marathon and requires practice, hard work, perseverance and help along the way. “Education” was the ultimate goal, and the adult mentors in the program acted as ‘Partners’ to their Scholars and encouraged Scholars to envision themselves as college-bound.
In 2003 the first class of Marathon Scholars was recruited. New Scholars have been recruited each year since. In 2014, Marathon Education Partners became Marathon Scholars and entered a brand new era of serving children and removing the obstacles that exist for under-resourced students striving to achieve their educational dreams.
Stephen Wasserberger, Executive Director
Stephen built a very successful architecture practice before switching gears to serve the community through a variety of distinguished non-profit roles. Those included his terms as President of the Board for the University Club of Portland and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon & SW Washington. Most recently Stephen served as the Executive Director of Martha and Mary Ministries, a non-profit provider of hospice care. Stephen is excited to get to work advancing the mission at Marathon Scholars by expanding the number of children we serve and bringing awareness to this incredible program.
Stephen is a University of Oregon alum, and enjoys spending time with his wife, training for triathlons, reading and cheering on the Ducks.
Molli Mitchell, Youth Program Director
Molli joined the Marathon Scholars team in August 2015. With 11 years of non-profit program management experience serving families experiencing trauma and 6 years as a mentor herself she brings a broad range of skills to support youth and mentor relationships. Molli holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies as well as a Masters in Social Work, both from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In her spare time, Molli enjoys cooking, spending time with friends, working to dismantle systemic oppression, being a part of a social justice-focused faith community, and jogging.
Brooke Adams, College Program Director
Brooke has worked in higher education since 2010 and is excited to be the College Program Director for our seniors in high school through our seniors in college. As a first generation college graduate she whole heartedly understands how college access and degree attainment can change the life of a first-gen student and open doors to worlds unknown. A mentor since 2010, Brooke is passionate about the mission of Marathon Scholars and gains joy from seeing young people succeed. Brooke holds a Master’s degree in Social Work and certificate in Nonprofit Administration from Saint Louis University. Outside of work you will find Brooke cycling, running, reading, listening to podcasts, and hanging out in social-justice-focused community around Portland.
Board of Trustees
Commercial Real Estate Investment, LLC
Retail Space Manager
Dynamic Resources International
Claire Brown, JD
David Cheney, Chair
Cheney Consulting Services, LLC
Senior Director, Director to Consumer Core Products and Programs
Director External Communications
Senior WC Claim Technician
SVP, Senior Property Manager
The Schlesinger Company
Director of Admissions
De La Salle North Catholic High School
& proud mother of a Marathon Scholar
Clinical Manager, Lutheran Community Services
Owner, Bright Perspectives LLC
Chief of Staff