Palmer Scholars acknowledges that our work is carried out on, and our office space is located within, occupied Coast Salish land, specifically that of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. We pay respect to Coast Salish Elders past and present, and extend that respect to their descendants and to all Indigenous peoples. To acknowledge this land is to recognize its longer history and our place in that history; it is to recognize these lands and waters and their significance for the peoples who lived and continue to live in this region, whose practices and spiritualties were and are tied to the land and the water, and whose lives continue to enrich and develop in relationship to the land, waters and other inhabitants today.
Our founders Merle Palmer and Rev. Al Davis created Palmer Scholars to address the societal inequities that prevent otherwise highly capable young adults of color from achieving their dreams and ending generational cycles of poverty.
Palmer Scholars serves underrepresented Pierce County young adults of color between the ages of 16 and 26. Coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, our Scholars often lack access to the information and opportunities needed to progress towards their educational and career goals.
Our mission is to support underrepresented Pierce County students of color to overcome financial, cultural, and social barriers in their pursuit of higher education.
At Palmer Scholars, we do not believe a 4-year degree is the only avenue to a successful life. We expose our Scholars to all educational and career pathways and give them the tools to choose the postsecondary program that best fits their strengths, whether that is a 2-year, 4-year, or apprenticeship program. We have two-entry points for Scholars receiving our services:
Serving young adults between 18 and 26, who are neither enrolled in a postsecondary program nor gainfully employed and have an interest in pursuing a career in the trades.
Serving young adults from the time they are juniors in high school through postsecondary program completion. Scholars may choose to attend any postsecondary program, whether that be 2-year, 4-year, technical college or apprenticeship.
Our Scholars participate in over 100 hours of training on topics including career exploration, financial aid, self-advocacy, budgeting, and navigating higher education as a student of color. We help our Scholars choose the best next step for them, whether that be 2-year, 4-year, technical college or apprenticeship.
We carefully and intentionally match our Scholars with a trained adult mentor who is a leader in our community. Mentors guide Scholars from the time they apply for their postsecondary institution through postsecondary
Renewable scholarships, freshmen-year send-off packages including a laptop and dorm essentials, and in-person campus visits are just some of the ways we support our Scholars as they progress through their postsecondary program.
Over the last 38 years, we have served over 600 talented young adults of color from across Pierce County. While nationally, low-income first-generation college students graduate at just 11%, our all-time graduation rate is 85%!
At Palmer Scholars, we recognize our Scholars cannot succeed in the classroom or in the workplace if they do not have their basic needs met at home. Our “Whole Scholar” model is a holistic approach that provides opportunities for our committed staff, board, and community volunteers to support Scholars in most all areas of life, beyond what is generally encapsulated in college access or workforce development programs. Our timeline of services below show the depth and breadth of the support we provide our Scholars.
we have served over
promising students of color from across Pierce County
In the 2019-2020 academic year we served
121 current college Scholars
60 high school Scholars
11 Pathways Scholars
Our all-time graduation rate for all Scholars served is
Nationally, according to the Pell Institute, this rate is just 11% for low-income first-generation students
Megan Q. (Clover Park '16, St. Martin's '20)
Shortly after graduating from St. Martin's University, Megan moved to Boston to work with FoodCorps, a non-profit organization whose missions is to work with communities and connect kids to healthy food in schools. Throughout the pandemic, Megan recognized the shame and stigma around food insecurity and decided to dedicate her time to changing this.
“Unlike other organizations, Palmer Scholars goes beyond Scholarships. They bring kids up, give them skills before college, and follow up until they graduate. In my time as a Palmer Scholar, I felt like they truly were invested in my success.”
- Shawn, Lincoln HS '15, University of Washington '19