Following the 9/11 attacks, Tonkon Torp attorney Jeff Cronn
and his friend and fellow lawyer, Dan Blaufus, brainstormed how to engage their peers and the broader community in an endeavor that would make a positive statement about the future. They determined to tackle the challenge of providing greater opportunity for low-income children to pursue and obtain higher education. On September 11, 2002, they founded Marathon Education Partners, now known as Marathon Scholars
, a long-term guidance and college access program.
"We were motivated by looking at the education gap in our state," says Jeff Cronn. "When a whole group of kids is left out of the opportunity to go to college, that's not good for them and it's not good for Oregon."
Marathon Scholars matches promising Oregon and SW Washington fourth-graders, identified by their schools, with adult "partners" who provide ongoing encouragement and financial contributions of $100 a month for 10 years (through the student's entry into college) to support the young scholar's quest for a college education.
Cronn recruited Tonkon Torp colleagues Shouka Rezvani
and Ken Stephens, and about a dozen other supporters, as founding members of Marathon Education Partners. Jeff and Shouka have served on the board for over decade, and additional Tonkon Torp lawyers have signed on as Marathon Partners, each providing long-term financial support and encouragement to a Marathon student. In 2011 and 2012, the organization celebrated the high school graduation of 100 percent of its first two classes of Marathon scholars. Tonkon business attorney Claire Brown
currently serves on Marathon's board.
"The goal is to plant the idea of college in a student's mind at a young age, and then to provide financial support and personal contact and encouragement to keep that dream alive," says Shouka Rezvani. "I have literally watched my student grow up before my eyes, and she is now in college. It is a great feeling to know you can make a difference in a young person's life."