MAC Scholar Athletes: Program Adapts to Serve Local Youth

In its over 50-year history, the MAC Scholar Athlete program has become a multifaceted initiative that holds meaning for a lot of people. While some are enticed by the scholarship, others find the two-year MAC membership, with the option to convert to intermediate membership, to be the real gem. Additionally, the program opens doors to various opportunities through the Multnomah Athletic Foundation and its philanthropic endeavors. However, the intangible sense of community at MAC stands out as one of the club’s defining characteristics, serving as the most significant gift for certain Scholar Athletes. Even the recognition itself, being celebrated by a prestigious athletic and social institution like MAC, holds immeasurable value.

As the 28 sophomores who received the 2023 honor explore the program’s benefits, they discover their own most meaningful aspects, with each response holding its unique significance. And what becomes evident from their answers about their sources of inspiration and the lessons learned from the pandemic is that they will undoubtedly give back far more than they have received.

Every year, students from 30 area high schools are awarded a two-year membership with the potential to transition into Intermediate MAC membership. In addition to this opportunity, they receive a $1,500 college scholarship from the Multnomah Athletic Foundation and gain access to a plethora of resources and programs designed to propel their athletic and academic endeavors forward.

Yet, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the MAC Scholar Athlete program benefits the club as much as it does the students. The influx of youth from across the region brings a fresh perspective to MAC, enabling students who may never have set foot in the club to become an integral part of its vibrant community.

Shifting to Serve Students

The MAC Scholar Athlete program began in 1971 with students from the 12 Portland Interscholastic League high schools. To better serve the students, the MAC Scholar Athlete program underwent positive changes in 2004, when James F. Miller’s generous gift established the scholarship endowment at the Multnomah Athletic Foundation. Miller’s intention was to honor the energy and accomplishments of high school student athletes.

Since then, the program has evolved to meet the changing landscape of high schools and cater to the needs of its participants. Its current purpose is to accelerate the success of promising students by providing them with access to a community that enhances their athletic performance, offers educational opportunities, and fosters meaningful social connections.

In the early years, the program simply involved the school selecting one student representative. However, as time progressed, the program adapted, and now schools nominate three students for consideration. These nominees are required to submit an application, provide a transcript, and ask an influential adult in their lives to write a letter of recommendation. A dedicated group of volunteers, comprising members from the broader community, Multnomah Athletic Club, and the Multnomah Athletic Foundation, meticulously review the applications and make the final selection of recipients from each school’s pool of nominees. This process serves as valuable preparation for the students’ potential journey into post-secondary education and beyond.

Nevertheless, some elements of the program remain unchanged. It continues to bring together and support exceptional high school students, encouraging them to push their limits, pursue their athletic passions, and lead through community-focused service. Through the MAC Scholar Athlete program, these remarkable individuals are empowered to embrace their potential and make a lasting impact on the world.

Written by the MAF Communications Team.

Originally published in the July 2023 issue ofΒ The Winged MΒ Magazine.