Sixteen years after its first class, the list of Richard Greene Scholars covers a broad spectrum of achievement: a Navy pilot in Hawaii, a pediatrician in Seattle, an attorney with the U.S. attorney general’s office, an engineer/operator/paramedic with the Houston Fire Department, a middle school band director in Pearland, a professor at the Air Force Academy.
“There’s no doubt that our expectations about what the program would mean have been exceeded,” said Greene, who served as Arlington’s mayor from 1987 through 1997. “There are remarkable success stories that confirm what a great idea this was.”
It was actually former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer’s idea: a scholarship program that would identify promising high school seniors, place them in classes of leadership and community service and give them a broader outlook beyond their chosen field of study, Greene said.
One junior a year from each of Arlington’s six traditional high schools wins a $10,000 Greene scholarship and commits to a senior year of extraordinary access to civic and business leaders and social service agencies.
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“When Tom Schieffer is inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame next month, it will be one of the focus points of all that Tom has achieved,” Greene said. “He will be recognized for having created the program.”
A Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held for Schieffer on the field Aug. 23 before the Rangers game with Kansas City. Schieffer will also be the guest of honor at a Hall of Fame luncheon on Aug. 22.
The Rangers and Schieffer made a 20-year commitment in 1998 to fund the program with $1 million.
“It is one of our five core programs,” said Karin Morris, executive director of the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. “We’ve had it nominated for the Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence.”
“I was honored by the Rangers’ attaching my name to it,” said Greene, who was mayor during the time Globe Life Park in Arlington was built. “My wife and I coordinate activities of students every year. Our role is to participate and to help, but the program belongs to the Texas Rangers.”
With classes and internships stretching through the senior year, it’s not structured like a typical scholarship. Neither is it awarded on the basis of financial need or the highest grade-point average, though a 3.0 or higher is a must.
Leadership potential is the deciding factor.
“By the end of their senior year, they get a hands-on view of broader life in the community,” Greene said. “They gain a better realization of what is making the community work and maybe identify a role for themselves in that.”
The Greene Scholars program shows up on the student’s transcript as a business internship elective. Grades are based on internship evaluations, interviews and reports due at the end of each six weeks.
The internship rotation is the heart of the program, and a student’s commitment to the substantial time requirement during after-school hours is key.
Students spend six-week internships at City Hall, the Arlington school district administration building, the chamber of commerce, the University of Texas at Arlington, the North Central Texas Council of Governments, Mission Arlington, and the Living Science Center at River Legacy Parks.
Shorter sessions with the Rangers, Experience Arlington, newspaper and television outlets and Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen’s office are also on the schedule.
The Greenes keep a complete database of everyone who has been in the program, which totals 96 counting this year’s incoming class.
“We have contact with probably 80 of them, and 25 or so have regular ongoing interaction with us,” he said. “We hold an occasional reunion every few years at Christmas.”
Greene likes to consider the program’s wider impact, he said, well beyond the scholarship recipients.
“This will be generational,” Greene said. “These young adults will be touching the lives of countless people.”