How Emily Griffith is continuing a legacy of above-and-beyond student support into its 106th year
On Sept. 9, 1916, educational pioneer Emily Griffith opened the Opportunity School, a place where students no matter their age or background could come to get the language and job skills to improve their lives. A sign hung over the entrance to the school boldly proclaiming the Opportunity School’s progressive stance on who belonged; it read, “For all those who wish to learn.”
Emily had hoped her new school—one of the first trade schools in the country—would attract 200 students its first year, but within a week, 1,400 people enrolled. By the time she retired in 1933, more than 100,000 students had taken classes at the institution that would soon carry the name of this remarkable adult-education visionary.
Fast-forward 105 years
Emily Griffith Technical College continues to hew closely to Emily’s dream of a school that teaches immigrants critical language skills and provides anyone—no matter who they are or where they’re from—the chance to learn skills and acquire a credential that will set them on the path to a career.
Last year, to celebrate the College’s 104th anniversary, in partnership with the Emily Griffith Foundation, the College took inspiration from Emily Griffith’s commitment to her students and established the 104th Anniversary Fund to grant 104 student and alumni requests.
During the College’s 104th year, the anniversary fund paid for attire and equipment for work, transportation costs, grocery gift cards, books, licensure and exam fees, scholarships, GED classes and supported alumni entrepreneurial ventures.
“Our students are incredibly hard-working and perseverant,” said Lulu Lantzy, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at Emily Griffith. “Many are caring for children or family members and balancing work with school, while dealing with additional pandemic challenges. We hope to be a source of light on a dark day.”
So what are we doing to make the 105th anniversary special? Inspired by our founder’s determined altruism—Emily daily carried a huge cauldron of soup on the streetcar to feed hungry students–the College and Emily Griffith Foundation will continue providing students emergency assistance through the 360 Fund so we can “Help one another,” ala Ms. Emily.