Freedom Writers Scholarship Gives Back to At-Risk Students


Photo courtesy of Freedom Writers Foundation

The Freedom Writers Foundation Scholarship Fund–established to provide financial support to the original Freedom Writers who later became the subject of a best selling book and film–continues to help at-risk students at Long Beach’s Wilson High School.

To date, the foundation has awarded over 80 scholarships to graduating seniors who have overcome the adversities of inner-city crime, poverty and broken homes to defy the odds and succeed in education. The support network, which is comprised of past recipients, including the original inaugural class of Freedom Writers, who continue to pay it forward by helping at-risk youths realize their educational goals.

“It’s just a way of giving back and connecting with the kids that are very similar to the freedom writers,” said Robyn Marotta, an original Freedom Writer who graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2004 and now works for the foundation.

In a press release, Erin Gruwell, former Wilson High teacher and author of the 1999 book The Freedom Writers Diary spoke of the importance of getting the word out to the community about the foundation to help provide support for the students that are honored each year.

“The Freedom Writers and I have met some truly amazing students through our scholarship program, each brilliant in their own way,” Gruwell said. “We’re right on the heels of selecting this year’s recipients and we need everyone’s help to reach our goal of $10,000 this year.”

This year’s candidates are currently being reviewed with an announcement of the winners expected in the next few months, however, the public’s support is requested now.

A screening of the documentary about the Freedom Writers, Stories From an Undeclared War, will be held at the Aquarium of the Pacific Monday March 31at 6:30PM, where a raffle will be held to benefit the fund.

Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to RSVP at [email protected]. Donations made to the foundation are tax-deductible and can also be submitted by mail with a check or by credit card by visiting the Freedom Writer’s website at Checks can also be mailed to: Freedom Writers Foundation c/o Scholarship, PO Box 41505, Long Beach, CA 90853. 

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.