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Mayor Brown’s Learn2Earn Program immerses students in college experience at JU

Mayor Alvin Brown inspired about 90 Jacksonville high school students to attend college during the recent Learn2Earn program at Jacksonville University.

Learn2Earn, a program implemented as a hands-on approach to boost the quality of education, hosted rising sophomores and juniors in an immersion of student life for one week on a residential college campus, according to a Jacksonville Mayor’s Office news release.

Brown appointed the city’s first education commissioner, JU management professor Dr. Donald Horner Jr., through a $1-a-year executive-on-loan agreement with Jacksonville University to help turn the vision behind programs like Learn2Earn into reality. Horner is on sabbatical from JU.

“At the end of this intense week,” said Horner, “participants typically say:  ‘OK, I get it.  Now I know what it’s like to go to college.’”

The focus of Learn2Earn was on students who receive free or reduced lunch and would be the first in their family to achieve a college diploma.

“I want each and every one of you to graduate from high school on time and be on your way to college,” Brown told participants at the event launch.

In the program from June 24-29, students took part in classes, lived in dormitories and worked on-campus jobs under the supervision of Teach For America staffers. During the program, Brown ensured students had a range of topics to learn from: professional development, writing, university orientation, financial aid, public speaking, dinner etiquette, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and a forum where speakers would answer the question – “What’s the deal with college?”

“In my first year of office, I focused closely on education and it paid off,” Brown said in the news release. “We now have more mentors, a great program to help college students fill out their FAFSA and City Year coming to troubled Duval schools. But Learn2Earn is right at the top of the list.”

Brown’s education initiatives were created to increase the high school graduation rate and boost the number of college-educated people in Jacksonville.

At the closing ceremony for the program, Brown gave the students advice about their futures.

“It’s all about you, your future, your dreams, your hopes and your aspirations,” he said. “You must never surrender your dreams, your hopes and your aspirations. You must never stop dreaming; I don’t care how difficult it is. I don’t care how tough it’s going to get. I don’t care if you live in a war zone. I don’t care what anyone tells you— you must never surrender. You must never give up — you must never quit. You will get there.”