November 2016
Welcome to our e-newsletter
Minds in Motion   
President John F. Kennedy said, "Change is the law of life." It is certainly the law of Free Minds this month, with big changes afoot in leadership and a new collaboration to serve students better. One thing hasn't changed--we've still got plenty of opportunities for you to take a spot around our community table. Read on! 

Director Vivé Griffith Passes the Torch

After serving nine years as Director of Free Minds, Vivé Griffith is stepping aside from her role at the end of this year. When she accepted the position in 2007, she anticipated running a classroom and building a rigorous humanities curriculum--things she had done as a creative writing teacher in the past. She did not anticipate how hard she would work to sustain Free Minds into the future.

For nearly a decade, Vive's dedication has been at the heart of Free Minds. During her tenure, Vivé has led key transitions in the program, establishing an advisory committee and a permanent home at Foundation Communities, earning generous financial support from organizations like TG Philanthropy, and nurturing partnerships with ACC and UT that have allowed Free Minds to thrive.
In addition to the 129 students who have completed the two-semester humanities course under her mentorship, Vivé has expanded the program's reach. In 2011, with help from an Americorps VISTA and a volunteer, she instituted Free Minds Writing Workshops, and she has helped foster a strong network of program graduates. Last summer, in response to her experience in Free Minds, she published a piece in The Washington Post drawing attention to policies that put working-class students at a disadvantage.

Despite passing the torch, Vivé will continue to teach in Free Minds and will take an active role in crafting course curricula. Her future plans include writing, advocating about adult student issues, and working on national efforts to bring humanities education to greater numbers of deserving adults.

After four years with Free Minds, Program Coordinator Amelia Pace-Borah will step up to lead its academic operations. This transition comes at an exciting time for Foundation Communities' college programs, which are collaborating on a new initiative, the College Hub, that will provide wrap-around support to returning students. (Read more about this in the Final Word below.)
In a message to program graduates, Vivé wrote " From the first time I visited a Free Minds classroom, I was enchanted, and I remain so. I am more convinced than ever that what happens around our table matters ." On behalf of students, graduates, faculty, staff, and partners, we are deeply grateful for Vivé's many years of service. We look forward to what's ahead for her and for the program she helped to build.  
(Looking for more? Click here to read Vivé's full letter to alums).
December Events

2nd Saturday: Performing Experience and Experiencing Performance 
with Madge Darlington, producer, director, and founder of the
Rude Mechanicals Theatre Collective
Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 am - noon 
M Station Apartments (above the leasing office) 
Child care and breakfast are provided. Guests welcome!   

End of Semester Celebration
We'll share a potluck dinner and celebrate the accomplishments of our 2016-17 students.
 Thursday, December 15, 6:15 - 8:45 pm 
M Station Learning Center
Click here to preview our spring events. 

Michael Starbird Encourages Free Minders to Re-think Math

Over the course of 40+ years as a mathematics professor at UT Austin, Dr. Michael Starbird has been trying to convince his students that everyone can think of great ideas if they cultivate the right habits of mind. At our recent 2nd Saturday event, the Free Minds community was fortunate to experience Starbird's dynamic teaching first-hand.

He began by asking students to imagine the time before modern mathematics was invented. "Suppose you're a stone-age person, and it's your job to think of mathematics... Put yourself in the position of the inventor of these ideas." How would the group deal, for instance, with developing a systematic way to name numbers? Or with the infinite divisions between whole numbers--aka fractions?

Many adult students, including Free Minds graduates, need new approaches to math; passing college math courses often poses a formidable barrier to completing a degree. During Starbird's session, one alum connected her challenges with math to her family history. "My mother told us from the time we were little that our family had some sort of math disability" she said. But as the group worked through problems together, they began to reassess such assumptions.

"Understand simple things deeply," Dr. Starbird advised. "If you take the trouble to do that, it opens up whole worlds."
Issue 63        
In This Issue
Vivé Griffith Passes the Torch
December Events
Starbird Encourages Students to Re-think Math
The Final Word

Special Thanks

To all who visited our classroom or led 2nd Saturday events this fall, thank you for generously sharing your time and expertise:

Jaime Ayala
Foundation Communities' College Hub
Patricia Behr
ACC Enrollment Management
Mary Alice Barrientez
Free Minds Class of 2016
Thomas Clark
ACC Enrollment Management
Madge Darlington
the Rude Mechanicals Theatre Collective
Dr. Matthew Daude Laurents
ACC Philosophy, Arts & Humanities
Charlotte Gullick ACC Creative Writing 
Jesse Huling
Free Minds Class of 2016
Joe Hoppe 
ACC Creative Writing 
Tung Huynh
ACC Enrollment Management
Andrea Lujan
Free Minds Class of 2016
Dr. Valerie Martinez
UT Austin, History
Barry Maxwell 
Street Lit 
Nicole Powell Cantu
Foundation Communities' Children's Home Initiative
Dr. Michael Starbird,
UT Austin, Mathematics
Clayton Stromberger
Shakespeare at Winedale
Katie Van Winkle
UT Austin, Theatre & Dance

If you are interested in volunteering with or supporting Free Minds, you can find more information on our website.

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Minds in Motion

September 2016
The class of 2017 embarks on a year of study and community.

May 2016
Free Minds celebrates ten years!  

March 2016
A student shares his belief in waving hello. 

Looking for earlier newsletters?
Visit our complete 
finalwordThe Final Word
Kori Hattemer, Director of Financial Programs, Introduces the College Hub 
Kori (left) with her husband. 
My family wasn't able to help me pay for college, and without the generosity of the Terry Foundation, I wouldn't have been able to go to The University of Texas without taking on a lot of debt and working full-time. The foundation requires its scholarship recipients to commit to giving back in the future in whatever way they can. A few years ago, I was excited to let them know I was doing that professionally by supporting programs that help lower income families save for college.
I am grateful to continue this work as Director of Financial Programs at Foundation Communities. When I started in June, the team was wrapping up a year of planning to provide coordinated and comprehensive services to help low-income nontraditional students complete their education. Our staff who had been working on financial aid assistance, scholarships, matched savings, and Free Minds envisioned a one-stop shop where students could access all of their services in one place.
I'm proud to announce that vision is now reality with the launch of the College Hub. At the College Hub we will provide individualized financial, academic, and other support services to nontraditional students. We will also work with community partners to bring in whatever students need to be successful. Free Minds will be a cornerstone of this new initiative. While many of our services focus on how to help students and their families pay for college, Free Minds shows students that they belong in a college classroom and prepares them to excel in other college courses if they choose to pursue them.
I know what it means to be a low-income student with limited resources, so the mission of the College Hub is especially important to me. I'm excited to work with our team to create a place where any student can find the resources they need to achieve their educational goals.

A program of Foundation Communities, in partnership with The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College, Free Minds offers a two-semester college course in the humanities for Central Texas adults who want to fulfill their intellectual potential and begin a new chapter in their lives.

Free Minds Project
Foundation Communities
3036 South 1st Street
Austin TX, 78704

Project Director: Vivé Griffith

Program Coordinator: Amelia Pace-Borah

Classroom Assistant: Irene Salas


Ph: 512-610-7961   F: 512-447-0288