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Project GEM—Galesburg Enrichment Mentoring

Issue: Access to Higher Education / Closing the Achievement Gap

Grant Amount: 35000
Galesburg, Illinois
Year Funded: 2010

Project GEM tackles the achievement gap by providing both elementary, middle and high school students with experiences in books, dance and art enrichment and mentoring that will instill in youth the ability to become a self-reliant thinker, reader and learner. Knox College students will work weekly with a group of middle school students who are first-generation potential college students. These middle school students will in turn learn how to mentor and work with elementary school students from the Galesburg community.

Project GEM will close the achievement gap by providing access to first-rate educational services that will support and nurture young learners. The Gale Scholars program allows fifteen middle school students annually to be identified for enrollment in a program for a tuition-free Knox College degree. Project GEM seeks to initiate a mentoring program for Knox College students to work weekly with Gale Scholars to provide them a Great Books experience. The Gale Scholars will in turn run a Junior Great Book

Project Updates

Art in Project GEM

Project GEM has been focused on exposing students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, students who are english language learners, and other under represented populations to a variety of classic english texts through the Junior Great Books series.

In conjunction with this, students have been regularly exposed to different forms of art, and classic paintings, to broaden their perspectives on what art is, how we talk about it, and the role it plays in our society. It is this discussion and appreciation for art that members of the project hopes assist kids in a higher cultural awareness, and begins to move them towards more enrichment opportunities. 

Junior Great Books Training

A key to project GEM has been the training from Junior Great Books. Program participants are trained in the shared inquiry method of questioning. These skills have been applied to the weekly reading and art seminar, as well as in the local middle schols Lombard and Churchill and other community outreach programs that have been run by program participants.


The training has established a excellent core of people who work with students in group and one on one settings around the galesburg areas to teach them comprehensive reading skills as well as increasing their abilities to question and reference examples in their answers.

Project Rationale

The model for Project GEM was decided upon through rigorous study of the most productive models for gifted enrichment and pulling from these it was determined that not only was the project meant to improve academics, but also service. With this in mind, the Triad Model types of Enrichment were combined with the Levels of Service approach to form an adequate basis. Following this, activities consistent with the Great Books Foundation and materials were implemented into the structure of the program.

            The Great Books were chosen within this, because of their highly appropriate readings on service, citizenship and active engagement, as well as their focus on critical thinking and shared inquiry. These values serve as the cornerstone of Project GEM and have contributed to the Knox College Students and Gale Scholars continued insistence of personal and academic growth for those involved

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