We make a long-term commitment to our students, starting in 4th grade. Together, these relationships, activities, and resources help close the achievement gap for first generation college-bound students who are academically talented and motivated. We use four interconnected strategies to support low-income students in their marathon journey to higher education:

  • A meaningful, long-term mentoring relationship with a caring adult
  • Enrichment activities that increase understanding of and access to college life
  • A scholarship commitment of $12K to be used toward college expenses
  • Intensive coaching to help navigate the college experience



At Marathon Scholars we understand that the journey to college is not a sprint, but takes years of training and coaching along the way. Your generosity helps our students cross that finish line to success. Thanks for being a part of our winning team.


We understand the benefits of mentoring young people when we hear the powerful stories of people who have been changed by a caring adult who took an interest in their success. These stories are everywhere. You may have one of your own.

We know that mentoring leads to myriad positive social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Study after study demonstrates that mentoring relationships build confidence, increase interest and engagement in school, expose young people to different education and career paths, and inspire them to dream big.

Youth mentoring is the heart of our work at Marathon Scholars, and our longest running program. We match Scholars enrolled in our program with a caring adult (or couple) who makes a long-term commitment to build a nurturing and supportive relationship. Mentors serve as a role models, cheerleaders, and coaches during monthly visits, and use email, texts, and phone calls in between visits to check in.


We offer a variety of out-of-school opportunities for our young Scholars and their families to explore career paths and build a culture of college. Enrichment activities include staff visits to participating schools to have lunch with our Scholars and meet with them as a cohort, Family College Days, field trips to sporting and related events, subsidies for summer camp fees to avoid the summer slump, and our annual Graduation Ceremony where we celebrate Scholars completing high school and college. Enrichment activities are offered year-round.

Learning about college is a family affair! We know that first-generation students and their parents have lots of questions about college. Parents want to know about how to finance college and campus life. Students want to know about class sizes, what majors are available, and what social life will be like. We think its important for the whole family to learn more about college together, with other families who are learning too. Each year, we take busloads of family members to visit 3-4 college campuses in the Pacific NW.



Marathon Scholars is the only youth mentoring program in the Portland area that combines mentorship with college readiness and financial support. Marathon Scholars who graduate from high school and enroll in an accredited, nonprofit institution of higher education are eligible to receive a $12,000 college scholarship. The Marathon Scholarship is funded through the incredible generosity of Scholarship Sponsors who support a Scholar by donating $100 per month for 10 years (or the equivalent) to the Marathon Scholarship Fund.


Young people from under-resourced communities who are the first in their families to attend college face many barriers on the path to getting to and through college. Marathon Scholars closes the gap in college enrollment, retention, and graduation by offering classroom instruction and individual coaching.

Before their junior year of high school, Scholars begin meeting with our College Program Director to plan for the college admissions process and sign up for ACT/SAT prep courses. Each summer, we offer College Prep classes where juniors identify their top schools, work on their college essays with the help of writing coaches, and learn all about the college admissions process. Financial aid classes are offered to their parents each fall.  Also in summer, we offer College Bridge classes and coaching for graduating seniors to help them make the transition to college and become effective self-advocates once they are on campus. Once at college, our Scholars have access to ongoing coaching and support.


How You Can Help

There are so many ways you can help; become a mentor or sponsor a scholarship fund or host a party or add us to your estate plan. We will work with you to figure out what is most meaningful and/or doable for you.