Tag Archives: Avenue Scholars Foundation

Avenue Scholars Foundation

August 15, 2018 by

Mission Statement

The mission of Avenue Scholars Foundation (ASF) is to ensure careers for committed students of hope and need through education/training and supportive relationships.

Wish List

  • Business partners to participate in career-building opportunities for ASF students, such as career exploration events, mock interviews, job fairs, career consultations, job shadowing, internships,  and apprenticeships. Part-time and full-time employment opportunities are greatly appreciated.
  •  Financial contributions

Upcoming Events

Avenue Scholars Foundation Wine Tasting and Vintner Dinner
Nov. 15, 2018

Avenue Scholars Foundation Celebration Luncheon
Late April/Early May 2019


ASF provides comprehensive, individualized support and resources to help students from low-income families identify, persist toward, and enter financially sustaining careers. Students are selected based on financial need (eligibility for free or reduced-priced school lunches, or a federal Pell grant) and interest in pursuing a career requiring an associate degree or less in one of the following high-demand industry sectors: 1) health care, 2) information technology, 3) automotive technology/transportation, 4) trades/manufacturing/builders, and 5) business/office processes.

Brag Lines

ASF has supported the career development of 2,106 students since its inception in 2008. Thanks to the generosity of the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation, and the ongoing support of Metropolitan Community College, ASF recently added direct scholarship assistance to the relationship-based support services provided by its dedicated staff. Beginning this past spring, all students who successfully complete ASF’s high school program will receive an $8,000 scholarship to continue their education/training at MCC.

Pay it Forward

Businesses are encouraged to join ASF’s effort by providing career development and employment opportunities for Avenue Scholars students. Please contact ASF to discuss how a business can work with the foundation to support opportunities for Avenue Scholars while helping identify and develop the talent needed to grow Omaha businesses.

Avenue Scholars Foundation

7101 Mercy Road Suite 240
Omaha, NE  68106

The Big Give was published in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Ferial Pearson

December 1, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Ferial Pearson knows what it is to be an outsider. Born in Kenya, she is an ethnic Indian, and a Muslim. Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, her family was no stranger to prejudice. Kenyans of Indian descent are a minority, and most Indians are Hindu, not Muslim.

Her mother was born in a hut. No one in her family had gone to college. Pearson’s grandfather saved money for much of his life so that she could get a degree. Despite this, her family regularly opened their home to strangers if they needed a place to stay.

Pearson is an instructional coach and clinical practice supervisor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Before that, she taught English at Omaha South High School. Many of her students were outsiders—immigrants, LGBTQ, low-income. Moved by the tragic 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Pearson challenged her students with a question.

Do modest acts of compassion have the power to change a person’s life?

Her students reacted and banded together in taking on the guise of the “Secret Kindness Agents.”

Anonymous acts of random kindness became contagious, and Pearson chronicled the results in a book, The Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change The World. Inspired by a classmate suffering from juvenile diabetes, Pearson allowed the class to decide that every dollar from book sales would be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She told the story last year in a TEDxOmaha talk.

“That’s just the way I was brought up,” says Person. “If there is a need in the community, it is your responsibility. Whatever we have…whether it’s food, shelter, whatever…that’s a privilege. And we have to give back. It’s the Kenyan way.”

As a noted teacher, mentor, adviser, and advocate, Pearson’s passion for inclusion has been felt by a broad array of often disparate constituencies, ones whose common thread is that of “outsiderness.”

In 2010, she received the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s Educator of the Year Respect award. The next year she was the recipient of RESPECT’s Anti-Bullying Award. In 2014, Pearson was named one of Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees. This year she was the grand marshal of the Heartland Pride Parade.

She has also given her time to the Avenue Scholars Foundation, the Freedom Writers Foundation, and serves on the board of Inclusive Communities.

“I think of my community as my family,” Pearson says. “You can sit in a classroom and have all the resources possible. You can have the best teacher possible. But if you are hungry, if you are scared, if you do not have the vocabulary, if nobody read to you when you were little, if you’ve experienced trauma…how are you going to concentrate on what is going on in that classroom?”

Search Secret Kindness Agents on YouTube to learn more.