• Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund


    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    What is the Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund?
     KEN The Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund commemorates a lifelong commitment to helping people.  Ken was the founder of Portage Adult Education.  It was his pioneering spirit that created the network of adult education services that exist today in Northwest Indiana.  His belief that it was “never too late” inspired teachers and students to reach for the very best in themselves.  That belief was the spirit behind the motto, “You Can”.  That kind of belief in people is contagious.   It changes lives. 

    Ken left behind a legacy comprised of thousands of people whose lives were improved because of his belief and tireless dedication to adult education.  As Neighbors’ we are committed to continuing his legacy.  The Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund honors his life’s work by providing assistance to people who could not otherwise afford the fees associated with the GED test.   We believe in lending that helping hand.  Sometimes a small gesture is all it takes to make a difference.

                                                                                       How can I contribute to the fund?
    SF Donating to the fund is simple.  Just send a check or money order to Neighbors' Educational Opportunities.  Make your check payable to NEO and send the check to: 

    Portage Adult Education Center

    5391 Central Avenue

                            Portage, IN  46368


    All donations go directly to help students with High School Equivalency (HSE) Test preparation and testing fees.

    About Ken Woodruff
    First and foremost, Ken Woodruff will always be remember for his sense of humor, love of people, and gentle kindness.  He is considered by many a
    KEN pioneer in the field of adult education.  In 1962 when the state of Indiana sent out a call for school corporations to provide educational opportunities for adults who did not have a high school diploma, Ken helped Portage Township Schools answer that call.

     As the first director of adult education, Ken began a program that offered a few night classes for high school diploma completion. By 1970 Ken opened the first adult learning center to to provide GED instruction. In the mid-1970's Ken hired a young woman named Linda O'Brien as the first adult learning center teacher.  A few years later, Portage Adult Education opened the GED Testing center and other community based learning centers.  Together Ken Woodruff and Linda O'Brien (Friedrich) created an adult education program that spanned six counties in northwest Indiana.  The program offered an adult high school and provided learning centers in Portage as well as community based learning centers in 24 locations throughout the six-county area.  Each year the program served 2500 students and 500 High School and GED graduates.

     During the 48 years the program was in operation, thousands of people were able to complete high school or earn a GED diploma.  His dedication and passion for helping others touched and changed many lives.  Ken received many awards and honors for his dedication to education and literacy at the state and local level, among them Indianapolis Star "Jefferson Award" for community service and the Outstanding Adult Educator in Indiana, both in 1978, Porter County Youth Service Bureau Award, 1982, I.U. School of Education Outstanding Alumni Award, 1991. 

    Story of the Star Fish
    SF A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement. 

    She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!” 

    The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

    The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. - adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

     "Perseverance against great odds and against the criticism of others is the very hallmark of value-based idealism, as is refusing to accept failure. The understanding that we hold in our hands the power to change a life, a mind, or a circumstance today – right now – is a powerful insight and motivator. At the same time, idealistic acts, even highly symbolic ones, have the power to inspire others to act, and sometimes in numbers significant enough to make a major or even complete impact on the problem at hand."

     Quote from the website, "Ordinary People Change the World"