Community Columns

Karen Williams: Why hope leads to success at LearningQuest

At LearningQuest, we are in the business of building hope.

As executive director, I feel hopeful every day. When I hand out certificates to adults who have longed for a high school diploma and see their excitement at finally meeting this goal, I experience with them a new hope for the future, whether they are going on to college, training or a career.

I always ask them about their experience and almost everyone says, “I never thought I could graduate but the staff here helped me believe in myself.”

Over and over, these graduates help build confidence and hope in other students by encouraging them to believe they can do it, because “if I can, anyone can.”

Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation has hope as well. That is why this forward-thinking organization is matching, dollar for dollar up to $40,000, the amount we raise by April 15 in our Building Hope Scholarship Drive.

MSR’s focus is supporting education and a belief that investing in education yields positive and lasting results for communities.

Their belief in the mission of LearningQuest and the difference we make as adults to achieve literacy and earn diplomas pushes us to create the best possible system for helping adults succeed, first by graduating and then by enrolling in college or training for a career.

This year, our organization is on track to have more graduates than ever in our history. We also are having our best year of helping students move on to college or career. Of our 121 graduates, 82 have applied to college, 33 have registered for college courses and 25 have been offered jobs.

One of our students recently graduated after only two months of preparation and study and received high marks in every subject. When she enrolled, she had said, “I can’t do math. There is no way I’m going to pass math.”

Yet she achieved the highest designation of “college ready level” on her math test and every other test she took. She wasn’t planning to go to college but now she realizes her capabilities and intelligence and has already started classes at Modesto Junior College.

Our program gave her confidence and hope, and now a future. She is already giving back to us by tutoring other students and producing hope in others.

Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best thing. If you are interested in helping us build hope in our area, please call me or visit for more information.

Karen Williams is executive director of LearningQuest.