For young people with very little means, there are many barriers to participating fully as a high school kid if you don’t have the resources that you need. In the midst of many recent discussions in Madison about overcoming the racial achievement gap, the Mann Fund and the Sanchez Scholars Fund have been instrumental in helping students overcome barriers, advocating for young learners, and making a difference in the community.

Students from those programs — the Mann Scholars Program and the Sanchez Scholars Program — came together last night for their annual Christmas Cookie Bake and Fellowship event at Christ Presbyterian Church on Madison’s near east side. It was a chance for young people to bake hundreds of cookies for a special cause and to enjoy some holiday cheer with fellow students and Mann Scholars board members.

Drawing on endowed funds and support from community volunteers and school staff, the Mann and Sanchez scholarship programs provide financial support for needy Madison-area students during high school. The two groups do not get a lot of chances to hang out together, so the cookie-making opportunity was a unique opportunity.

Students made almost 400 Christmas cookies Dec. 14 at the Christ Presbyterian Church.
Students made almost 400 Christmas cookies Dec. 14 at the Christ Presbyterian Church.

“We’ve been doing this for about 5 years now and it’s just an incredibly fun time for our students and our board members,” says Amy Wallace, longtime Mann Scholars Coordinator for the Madison Metropolitan School District. “In all, we usually make somewhere between 300-400 cookies. The past few years we have given them to the Red Cross around Christmas time. This year they will go to the Senior Program at Goodman Community Center. Leftover cookies will go the students’ families.”

The Sanchez Scholars receive financial and academic support throughout their high school careers through a fund set up by Dr. Roberto Sanchez.

The Mann Scholars Program was started by sisters Becky Gobermann and Lori Mann Carey who head up the Mann Fund and are present for each Mann Scholars Celebration every spring on the UW-Madison campus. The perfect Mann Scholar candidate demonstrates an investment in their academics, consistent grades and attendance, and shared their talents with their community and with their involvement in extracurricular activities.

The Mann Educational Opportunity Fund is a scholarship that honors the late Bernard and Kathlyn Mann, long-time African American residents of Madison whose strong belief in education helped ensure the graduation of their five children from Madison Memorial High School and later from universities. The Mann Program’s goal is to provide mentoring and educational tools to students from the Madison Metropolitan School District who show potential for academic achievement but face significant challenges to reaching their full potential.
Mann Scholars are picked every year based on their academic promise, their motivation, their financial need, and the willingness of their families to encourage participation in enrichment activities. They are primarily, but not exclusively, students of color. Three to five students join the Mann Scholars program every year and each receives $1,000 per year each year during high school, mentoring support, and assistance in planning high school and post-secondary studies. During their high school years, these young people will receive whatever financial, mentoring, and academic support they need to succeed. The scholarship funds help pay for extracurricular and school expenses during high school, and the program also provides academic mentoring.