The Free Minds Project, a program that offers a free college-level humanities class to low-income adults who have faced barriers to higher education, is accepting applications until July 6 for its 2012-13 class.
The only program of its kind in Texas, Free Minds is sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with Austin Community College (ACC) and Foundation Communities. It is modeled on the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, which originated in New York City in 1995.
Free Minds classes are team-taught by faculty at The University of Texas at Austin and ACC. They are held in the evenings twice weekly in central Austin. Tuition, books, child care and other support services are provided without charge. Students who complete the program earn six credit hours from ACC.
“Because of its focus on the humanities, Free Minds isn’t a typical college transition program,” said Project Director Vivé Griffith. “The classes give students the chance to encounter great works of literature, history and philosophy and improve their analytical thinking and communication skills. About 75% of our graduates go back to school, but they also report earning promotions at their jobs and becoming more involved in their children’s education.”
Stacey Kennedy, a 2012 Free Minds graduate, had been out of school for 31 years when she enrolled in the program. A formerly homeless mother of two, she was seeking a way to gain the confidence and skills to return to school. The program’s strong community and accessible professors made her feel comfortable as an adult student.
“Free Minds took away my fear of whether I could succeed in college,” she said, “and made me know I was ready to be educated.” Only days after celebrating her Free Minds graduation, Kennedy started coursework toward an associate’s degree in social work at ACC.
“We are excited to support this initiative that helps people change their lives,” said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. “This program offers opportunities to adults who haven’t attended college and provides them with the tools they need to become successful students.”
To learn about admission requirements or to download an application, visit the Free Minds Web site at www.utexas.edu/diversity/ddce/freeminds or call 512-232-6093.