written by Kay K. Tacke | featured photo by Eric Newland
Joey Harrington lives a life in full tilt. His passion is contagious for developing and lifting up tomorrow’s leaders. Harrington, a University of Oregon football legend, Heisman trophy nominee, former NFL player and TED Talk speaker, spearheads the Harrington Family Foundation (HFF).
“Our Community Quarterback Scholarship Fund is designed to offer the promising youth we have here in Oregon support for their future dreams,” Harrington said. This Northeast Portland native wants to see the state’s youth expand, thrive and stay in Oregon.
Within just three pioneering years, HFF has twelve outstanding kids in its program. Shawntell Michalke, 19, a Medford high school graduate, discovered the scholarship fund through her high school guidance office. “The funds help with the burden of fees for my college education,” she said. “I took advantage of the mentorships HFF offers and hit it off right away with former University of Portland Dean, Joanne Warner, who helped guide me through the application process to transfer into the UP school of nursing.”
Mentors—an unusual offering to scholarship recipients—and money help pave the way for students by offering support to reduce stress and add reassurance. “It’s simple—we want to help cultivate the next generation of leaders,” Harrington said. “People who are proud to be Oregonians. I want this place to be great. I want my kids to be proud of where they are from. The foundation wants to keep our promising youth in state in order to keep promise in our state.”
The scholarhsip offers $2,500 per year per student for four years. The fund currently has sixteen recipients benefitting from its QB fund. HFF targets high school seniors who plan to attend an Oregon university or trade school and who have the desire to make change. “If they can thrive here, they will stay here,” Harrington said. “When kids believe in themselves, hope happens and then change happens.” On average, 250 applicants apply each year, with a selection of four recipients. An online application will be available for the first time this October with the addition of interviews for the top finalists.
Harrington is thrilled to find that spark in young adults. “They are out there, and we are going to help them,” he said. “We have a host of incredible men and women, community and creative leaders, and innovators who are here to bridge the gap from dreams to reality for these kids.”
Harrington continues to use his quarterback skills, creative mind and kind heart to take a fierce stance advocating for the state’s young leaders by passing exceptional educational opportunities their way.
“Kids are more than a test score or good grades,” he said. “We want leaders—kids who see a problem and advocate for a creative solution—to solve it and help others in the process. … You just know it when you read their stories and hear them share what’s in their hearts. We need to get these kids in our state and trade schools and help them keep their passion alive.”