Oprah Winfrey foundation gives $5 million to New Jersey-based after school program

OWN head says she is proud to support 'Pathways to College' and its work to help young people achieve a better life through education

Oprah Winfrey theGrio.com
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage the 10th Anniversary Women In The World Summit at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on April 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation has given a $5 million donation to a Newark, New Jersey-based and nationally-operated after school program that helps prepare students of color for college.

Judith Griffin, founder of Pathways to College, said she learned her program had received the donation last September, but first shared the news on Thursday with Pathway students and family members during a luncheon in Montclair, reported NJ.com.

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“Of all the charities in the country, she would choose to give this contribution to us because she believed in what we do. I don’t even know how you put a price on that,” Griffin told NJ.com.

During the luncheon, a video message was played of Winfrey praising the program. The kids were thrilled.

“I celebrate and honor the work Pathways to College does in securing futures for young people who want to go to college,” Winfrey said in the video, according to NJ.com. “I am proud to sponsor and support all of these young people and their dreams for a better life through education.”

Established in 2003, the program is offered nationwide for students of color from school districts with limited resources. Through the program, which aims to prepare students for college success and support then in achieving successful lives, students visit college campuses.

The national program has been in Newark the longest, but is in a total of 20 sites across the country, including Gary, Indiana, Detroit, Michigan, and Pine Bluff and Altheimer, Arkansas. Since its inception, Pathways has supported more than 4,000 students and 100% of program attendees have gone on to college, NJ.com reported.

When Oprah’s message played on the screen, Sumwen Osagie, 18, told NJ.com was in disbelief.

“Oprah knows Pathways to College,” Osagie said. “It’s something that motivates me to keep on going no matter what.’’

Osagie, a senior at Arts High School, applied to 13 colleges and was accepted at all of them. She told NJ.com she is going to Fairleigh Dickson in the fall.

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Were it not for Pathways, Osagie added that she “would have been all over the place’’ in her college search and preparation.

Last year, Winfrey also donated $500,000 to “Lights On,” another Newark-based after school program, which operates at West Side High School and keeps kids off the streets in the evenings.