On a cold January weekend in 2018, 17 high school freshmen began their journey as the pilot class of The Legacy Project. This group of ninth graders was gathered at The Ohio State University for orientation into a new “grit-focused” youth empowerment program, sponsored by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and The Hagedorn Legacy Foundation.
Fast forward to May 2021, on a picture-perfect spring day, the same group of students once again came together, this time to celebrate their graduation from The Legacy Project. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory was the ideal setting to recognize these students and this major milestone in the program.
Through individualized coaching and career mentor relationships, real-world career opportunities and immersive learning experiences, The Legacy Project develops students through a multi-discipline curriculum. During their four years in the program, students are challenged through character strength and entrepreneurial mindset development, financial literacy management and customized goal-pursuit. The program also provides a $20,000 scholarship to each student to be used for post-secondary education.
“When we launched The Legacy Project, we set out to help students unlock and grow their grit so they could ultimately define their own future and what success looks like to them,” said Jim King, president, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. “As we watch our pilot class graduate, all of our students have used their experiences in the program to go after their dreams on their own terms.”
Students from the graduating class have detailed plans to continue their education, with nearly half attending The Ohio State University. One graduate was accepted into the U.S. Army, and is set to begin basic training later this month. Others will start their college careers at traditional four-year universities across Ohio later this summer. And one Legacy graduate will travel to San Francisco to begin her art design education.
“With support from The Legacy Project, I have the opportunity to be the first in my family to attend college and study nursing,” said Anasarai Juarez-Santiago. “I want to help my family and bring more success to them. During my time in the program, I really developed my “bravery” character strength, which will help me face any challenge in life.”
The Legacy staff has learned a great deal from the pilot class to help improve the program experience for future students. And later this month, the program will welcome its third student cohort into the Legacy community.