The Mann Educational Opportunity Fund is a scholarship that honors the late Bernard and Kathlyn Mann, parents of Becky Gobermann (left) and Lori Mann Carey.
In the midst of one thousand recent discussions in Madison about overcoming the racial achievement gap, The Mann Fund has been helping students overcome barriers, advocating for young learners, and making a difference in the community for 15 years now.
So, it will be another fun and emotional night day at the at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Town Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus June 1 as the Mann Scholars Ceremony celebrates its 15th year of making a difference in young people’s lives in our community.
“This is an event where the current Mann Scholars are recognized. We tell a little bit about them and what their plans are for the future. We will also be introducing the incoming scholars this fall,” says Lori Man Carey. “It’s a time for all people who are connected with the Mann Fund to come and get up to date on what’s going on with the scholars and to socialize.”
The Mann Educational Opportunity Fund is a scholarship that honors Mann Carey’s parents, the late Bernard and Kathlyn Mann, long-time African American residents of Madison whose strong belief in education helped ensure the graduation of their five children from Madison Memorial High School and later from universities. The Mann Program's goal is to provide mentoring and educational tools to students from the Madison Metropolitan School District who show potential for academic achievement but face significant challenges to reaching their full potential.
Mann Scholars are picked every year based on their academic promise, their motivation, their financial need, and the willingness of their families to encourage participation in enrichment activities. They are primarily, but not exclusively, students of color.
Each Mann Scholar receives $1,000 per year each year during high school, mentoring support, and assistance in planning high school and post-secondary studies. During their high school years, these young people will receive whatever financial, mentoring, and academic support they need to succeed. The scholarship funds help pay for extracurricular and school expenses during high school, and the program also provides academic mentoring.
Sisters Becky Gobermann and Lori Mann Carey head up the Mann Fund and are present for each Mann Scholars Celebration every spring on the UW-Madison campus. Mann Carey remembers when they first endeavored to start the Mann Scholars Program in 1997. “When we first started, we hoped this day would come. It sounded like such a promising program,” she remembers. “Once we got over establishing the fund at the Madison Community Foundation, that was our emotional victory because then we knew that every year we would have approximately $20,000 in income and that’s what needed to fund the kids going through the program.”
The Mann Educational Opportunity Fund (MEOF), a.k.a The Mann Fund, was the idea of a group of friends of Bernard and Kathlyn Mann who wanted to provide a scholarship program that worked closely with high school students, primarily students of color, who showed promise of academic success. If provided academic and financial support, they hoped, the student would graduate from high school and also be in an excellent position to compete for other college scholarships.
The Family of Mann Fund Scholars is now up to 48 members counting alumni. They have events at least three times a year including the Martin Luther King events, back-to-school events, and graduation events where Mann Carey is likely to see past Mann Scholar graduates. They work hard to stay in touch with past and present Mann Scholars, and they enjoy keeping tabs on their progress.
“It’s always great to see former Mann Scholars at these events or out in the community,” Mann Carey says. “We have one Mann Scholar on our Mann Scholar board — Zachary Kimbrew — who graduated from Edgewood College last year. There are different ways that we keep in touch with past Mann Scholars and that they stay involved with the Mann Family. Amy does a great job staying in touch with all of the graduates.”
“Amy” is Amy Wallace, the Mann Scholars Coordinator for the Madison Metropolitan School District. “We are so lucky to have Amy. She is so wonderful at what she does. The kids just love her. She’s able to talk to them like she talks to her own children. Sometimes she has to be stern, but her sternness is delivered with love. She’s been amazing.”
MMSD Partnerships Coordinator Kathy Price also plays an important role with the Mann Scholars.
Giving back to the community is an important part of being a Mann Scholar. It’s a part of the Mann Fund philosophy. Each year, the program coordinator identifies and arranges for several volunteer activities.
“What happens is that there are several pre-set community events where they give back to the community and organize events,” Mann Carey says. “In addition to that, Amy will work individually with each of the scholars to identify things that may be of a specific interest for a particular scholar.”
“We tell the young people that it’s kind of a lifestyle,” Mann Carey adds. “You want to give back to the community when you are able. And it’s not something to do to get through the program; it’s a way of life.”
The June 1 celebration on the UW-Madison campus is a unique opportunity for the community and the Mann Family to gather. The scholars will make passionate speeches about what they overcame to make it to the point they are at today and the personal testimonies will probably get a little emotional.
“There will be stories where people could have given up, but they didn’t,” Mann Carey says. “In this program, it’s true… you get a little bit of help, you get coaching and you get that extra little bit of guidance that says, ‘Don’t give up. You can do it.’
“I invite everybody from the community to come to the event to be inspired by the good things that are happening with young people in the community and to maybe get an idea on how they can help with the Mann Scholars or other students in the community that might need assistance,” she adds.
It’s a great way to honor the name and memory of Bernard and Kathlyn Mann.
“I think mom and dad would be proud,” Mann Carey smiles.
A community celebration announcing the Mann Scholars and the 2012 Mann graduates will be held Friday, June 1, 5:30-7 p.m. at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Town Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Mann Scholars are picked every year based on their academic promise, their motivation, their financial need, and the willingness of their families to encourage participation in enrichment activities.
For more information about the Mann Scholars Program, please visit www.Mannfund.org. You may also contribute online at www.Madisoncommunityfoundation.org.