Free Minds Jumpstarts a College Education for Low-Income Adults: Application Deadline is July 5

The Free Minds Project, a program that offers a free college-level humanities class to low-income adults who have faced barriers to higher education, is accepting applications until July 5 for its 2010-11 class.

Free Minds is a community engagement incubator project sponsored by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, in partnership with Austin Community College (ACC) and Foundation Communities.

The program is modeled on the Bard College Clemente Course in the Humanities, which originated in New York City in 1995. It is the only program of its kind in Texas.

Free Minds is team-taught by faculty at The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College. Classes are held in the evenings twice weekly in central Austin. Tuition, books, child care and other support services are provided without charge. Students who complete the program earn six credit hours from ACC.

"Because of its focus on the humanities, the Free Minds Project isn't a typical college transition program," said Project Director Vivé Griffith. "The program focuses on analytical thinking and oral and written communication skills and gives students the chance to see the world from a new perspective. Students are motivated to go back to school, but they also gain the confidence to pursue promotions at their jobs and to become more involved in their children's education."

For Abbie Navarrete, a 2007 Free Minds graduate, the program was the spark that reignited her passion for education. When she walked the stage at Austin Community College after earning her associate's degree this May, "it was the culmination of a dream."

Navarrete had dropped out of high school at age 16 to start working and didn't return to the classroom until she started Free Minds.

"All it took was the opportunity, and since then I haven't stopped," she said.

"This program offers so many opportunities to adults who haven't attended college. The in-class workshops that focus on study skills, financial aid and time management provide participants with the tools they need to become successful students," said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. "We are excited to support this initiative that helps people change their lives."

To learn about admission requirements or to download an application, visit the Free Minds Web site at or call 512-232-6093.