A giant in the newspaper business is returning to the Keys at the end of the month to send off Take Stock in Children graduates as they get ready to enter college.
The Monroe County Education Foundation, which oversees the mentoring and scholarship program, is bringing Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson to speak at the ceremony, set for 11 a.m. May 31 at Marathon High School, 350 Sombrero Beach Road.
"I'm delighted to be in the Florida Keys for such an important milestone as the graduation ceremony for TSiC participants," Robinson said in a prepared statement. "Success stories like these are a credit not only to the students and their families, but to the wonderful mentors who guided them during these past few years."
Under a contract the students sign in seventh grade, Take Stock students agree to stay crime- and drug-free, maintain good grades and get involved in community service. They also meet once a week with a mentor.
If successful through graduation from high school, they are rewarded with a scholarship good for two years at one of Florida's 28 community colleges, followed by two years at one of the 12 state colleges or universities. The educations are financed through public and private money invested in the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.
Over the program's 13-year Keys history, 471 students earned scholarships, including this year's class of 37 students.
In March, Robinson came down for a presentation at the Studios of Key West.
He writes a twice-weekly column on politics and culture, contributes to the Post Partisan blog and hosts a weekly online chat with readers.
Robinson's career at the Post spans three decades, including stints as a foreign correspondent in Buenos Aires and London, foreign editor and assistant managing editor in charge of the paper's Style section.
In 2009, he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary for his columns on the 2008 presidential campaign that focused on the election of the first black president, presenting it as part of a larger historic picture.