Thursday, November 21, 2013

College 101 and Kick Off Party!

We have had a busy but exciting month at the Elizabeth Edwards Fellows Program.  Three of our Fellows attended a career and college fair at the Garner Road Community Center.  A number of colleges from North Carolina were in attendance, and our students received some great information about their college prospects.  The Fellows also attended a College 101 workshop with Jenny Peacock, the Director of Admissions at Peace University.   During this interactive presentation, students were challenged to think about a successful “Action Plan" for college admissions.  The students also learned some great tips about applying for, paying for, and succeeding in college.  Finally, we are pleased to welcome six new sophomores and one new junior into the Elizabeth Edwards Fellows Program!  These students, who were nominated for the program by their teachers based on their academic potential, had to complete an application and interview in order to become accepted into the program.   We celebrated their acceptance, at our Kick-Off Party, at the Alley, a bowling alley in Raleigh.  Both new and previous Fellows as well as friends and family had a wonderful time bowling and learning more details about the program and all the exciting opportunities we have to offer. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Elizabeth Edwards Fellows Program Welcomes Its Second Cohort of Students!!!

The Elizabeth Edwards Foundation is proud to welcome a new cohort of high school sophomores into the Elizabeth Fellows Program.  These students will follow in the footsteps of last years eight original Elizabeth Fellows.  The Fellows will participate in mentoring with area college students, receive academic tutoring in courses where they are receiving less than a B average, and take part in service learning opportunities.   The Fellows will also research and learn to speak about issues they care about in their community.  At the end of the year, they will receive laptops to help them mature as scholars and advocates.

As Elizabeth Fellows in their junior year, students will explore their college options and receive support in the application process.  Fellows will receive SAT prep, attend college tours and workshops, and learn about scholarship and financial aid options.  They will also identify and research problems in their community and learn to advocate for the solutions.  At the end of the year, Fellows will travel to Washington D.C. to lobby their representatives for their cause. 

Though only in its second year of programming, we are determined to show our Fellows a vision where they can be successful in high school and college, and continue to excel and make a difference in the world at large.  As dedicated and passionate high school students, our Fellows have been and will continue to be instrumental in improving and enhancing the success of the program. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth.

This July 3rd, we at the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation remember the birthday of our namesake and muse, Elizabeth Edwards.

Mary Elizabeth Anania was born on July 3, 1949 at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station hospital.  In Saving Graces, she said: "my life is measured by which air station, which town, which country I lived in...  My only constant is my family.  And for me, describing them is like describing my hometown: it's where I come from.

Elizabeth would have been 63 years old today. She lived all 61 years of her life to the fullest possible extent, each day finding love, joy, passion, work and thought.  Throughout her life, she continued to live in her "hometown": surrounded by her extended family.  Some were family by blood and some by a deep friendship.  Elizabeth understood the richness of life from the start, recognizing that the people in it are what comprise its fabric.  And she never stopped pulling more people into that family. We at the Foundation endeavor to continue Elizabeth's beautiful life work, including continuing to build that family, that hometown, here at the Foundation.

We invite you to join the family, and to join us today in wishing Elizabeth a Happy Birthday! We are so thankful that Elizabeth was born.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Huffington Post: Cate Edwards on Elizabeth Edwards's "Defining Moments"

Defining Moments
Every person has a timeline of their own life, made up of the big moments in it -- the personal bests and worsts that singe their memories. On my timeline, one of those worsts came on November 3, 2004, when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Another happened on March 22, 2006, when it was confirmed that her cancer had metastasized to her bones and it would be incurable.
People often call these "defining moments." But when I think about my mom, when I describe her, these are never the moments that come to mind. She taught me better than that. She taught me that the big moments count, of course; but she also taught me that most of life is what happens in between. So, that's how I think about her timeline -- as memories of the moments in between, because those are what truly define her.
I remember how much fun she was, the amusement she could bring to an otherwise boring occasion. For example, when I was growing up, she was constantly updating her hand-typed songbook. It was an intense piece of work -- put together in alphabetical order in a giant three-ring binder, which had to accompany us on all family road trips. She came up with a competition: my brother, Wade, and my dad would sing one song, and she and I would sing another; we would roll down all the car windows and sing as loud as we could; whoever sang loudest won. The sound our clashing voices produced was pure joy, egged on by the honks and stares from surrounding cars. (And, of course, she always declared our team the victor.)
I remember how superstitious she was about sports. She spent the second half of one home UNC basketball game in the bathroom at the Dean Dome because every time she came out, the Heels would start losing. The night before her lumpectomy in 2005, we sat in a small Boston hotel room, completely distracted by the best rivalry in college basketball -- UNC v. Duke. We superstitiously switched seats back and forth until Carolina started playing well, and when they won, we patted ourselves on the back for the victory.
I remember how well she could laugh at herself. I was at home in Chapel Hill one afternoon in 2009 and found my mom at her computer. She looked worried, so I peeked over her shoulder and saw that she had Googled, "skin cancer." She looked like she had been flipping through the unsightly images for hours, so I asked what was going on. She pointed to a dark spot on her neck and said, "Does this look like skin cancer to you?" I examined it for a minute and said, "Well, I don't know what skin cancer looks like... but I do know what a curling iron burn looks like." She sheepishly turned to me and -- in her best Gilda Radner voice -- said, "Oh. Never mind." We looked at each other for a half second before we both burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
I know these things seem small, but they're not. When you put together the thousands of little stories and the traits they embody, you get a portrait of the woman I most admired in the world. You get my mother.
I was 28 years old when I sat at my mom's bedside for our last big moment together -- the morning of December 7, 2010 -- when she passed. Today, I think of her in all the big moments, like my wedding in 2011 or the launch of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation last year, whenever I could use some of her wisdom or I need a shot of courage. I wish she were here for those big moments. But I also think about her whenever I sing in the car or I switch seats during a UNC game or I have no choice but to make fun of myself. So mostly, I just wish we had more of the moments in between.

"Today we stand up in memory of all those moms we've lost, and all those moms who are in the fight against this vicious disease. Launch a star in memory of someone you love at"

Read more about the work of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation in honor of Cate's mother. 

Read the article on The Huffington Post.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cate Edwards: "Everyone Deserves an Elizabeth"

This week, I sat down with Savannah Guthrie to help raise awareness of the Elizabeth Edwards Foundation, an educational nonprofit founded in honor of my mom.  I told her about our philosophy that “everyone deserves an Elizabeth,” to usher them through challenges and encourage them to pursue their loftiest dreams.  I was lucky enough to have the real thing.  

When I was young, my mom stayed up late with me if I had to read a book for class the next day. We would take turns reading aloud to each other so that we could each stay awake and follow the storyline.  In high school, my mom drove me around to see 17 different colleges in less than a week, keeping a running list of pros and cons and making me rank each college based on my personal preferences.  

In college, I called her to ask which extracurricular activities she thought I should do, and in law school she pushed me to apply for higher positions on my law journal.  Even in 2010, I went to her to seek her coveted advice on my career as a civil rights attorney.  She was a constant mentor, cheerleader and coach, and I will never stop thanking her for that.

The value of a support system cannot be understated.  It can make the difference for a young person, determining just how bright their light can burn.  We built the Elizabeth Fellows Program for that exact purpose: to fan those flames.  This year, we welcome our first class of Elizabeth Fellows in Raleigh, North Carolina.  This group of kids is driven, smart, and talented, but unfortunately has limited resources and has been met with obstacles to their success.  That has not stopped any of them from dreaming of going to college and envisioning a bright future for themselves.  Our role is to “give them an Elizabeth” to help them get there. 

How do we do it? First, we provide each Fellow with a mentor from a local college to walk with them through high school, help them over social and academic hurdles, and introduce them to college life.   They also receive academic monitoring and support to ensure that they are successful in the classroom, helping them build a solid foundation for years of education to come.   The Fellows also learn a skill that my mom embodied in her own life: advocacy.  Finding their own voice, the Fellows learn to advocate for the things that matter most to them.  Each Spring, the Fellows also design and implement a public service project to address a concern within their community, instilling in them the power of service that my mom so valued.  The Fellows will also receive the support they need for SAT prep, summer experiences, college applications and more.  

The Fellows have expressed the deepest gratitude for the opportunity that the program has given them since they were told of their admission.  Some of them screamed and jumped around with excitement; some had tears in their eyes; others ran to their favorite teachers or called their mothers to tell them.  Many have already said that they want to come back to the program as mentors when they are in college.  Earlier this month, I gave them each a copy of my mom’s first book, Saving Graces.  They immediately started flipping through it, and said they would be staying up late that night reading it.  From that moment, I knew that my mother would be proud; these are exactly the type of kids that she always reached out to help.  And like my mother, I am nothing short of inspired by them.  I hope you’ll go to our website ( and learn more about the program and how your assistance can help us bring on more classes of Elizabeth Fellows, grow the program and give more young people “an Elizabeth” of their own. 

See the article on the Today Show Website.