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About The Clemente Course

THE CLEMENTE COURSE IN THE HUMANITIES ®, INC. inspires and equips motivated, low-income adults to take charge of their lives. Our year-long program activates students’ intelligence, fosters the skills to make informed decisions, and kindles the self-confidence to act upon them. Clemente uses the transformative experience of the humanities to spark a productive change in its students.

All Clemente students have faced significant barriers to their education. Without tried and tested critical skills, they risk being trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder. Through Clemente, students envision new horizons and greater goals.

Demographic Snapshot Of Clemente Students

What Clemente Offers

Clemente offers free, accredited humanities courses to under-served adults. The nine-month course meets weekly for four hours. The experience is rigorous, but the class is accessible to motivated and engaged individuals. Every student receives all of the course materials for free. Transportation and childcare are also provided, removing crucial barriers to attendance. Since 1996, over 10,000 students have benefited from the Clemente Course in the Humanities.

Professors from leading colleges and universities teach every course, using the Socratic method. Class discussions, readings, and written assignments build skills in critical thinking, written and oral communications, time management, teamwork, and self-advocacy. College credits earned from a Clemente course provide a springboard to higher education.

Clemente Graduates are more motivated to advance their educations, and confident in their abilities to complete college-level work

Graduates are more comfortable communicating verbally with authority figures and advocating for themselves and their families.

Graduates are more comfortable communicating in writing with authority figures and in the workplace.

Our Impact

By the numbers; The recently completed evaluation of the Clemente Course revealed very encouraging numbers, reinforcing Mass Humanities’ plan to expand the Course. As a result of Clemente, the following represents the percentage of graduates who descibe themselves as »

Clemente students build the confidence necessary to set ambitious goals and work towards them. They become active and engaged citizens. Through the course, they become more focused on furthering their education and on supporting their own children’s learning. They become more deeply involved in their communities and seek out more meaningful careers.

Many Clemente graduates go on to seek out additional opportunities for education in universities and community colleges, to achieve new responsibility in their careers, and to become more active in civic and community life. Today, students who took part in Clemente are graduate students, government officials, nonprofit activists, and small-business owners.

In recognition of these achievements, The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded the Clemente Course with one of its National Humanities Medals.

About Our Students

Criteria for participating in a Clemente program are minimal. Students should be living under 150 percent of the national poverty level, be able to read a newspaper in English, and be over 17 years old.

The median age of Clemente students is 39. Seventy-four percent live in households making less than $30,000 per year, with the majority earning less than $10,000. Over 60 percent work at least 20 hours a week, while slightly more than 20 percent are not currently employed. The majority of our students are single heads of households.

Most Clemente students have seen their education interrupted because of poverty, early parenthood, homelessness, or addiction. All are driven by a shared commitment to expanding their options and enriching their minds.

The Clemente Model

The Clemente model is driven by the energy and commitment of social entrepreneurs in collaboration with community organizations who believe that the humanities can transform lives. These dynamic partnerships work together to raise funds to pay for faculty, books, transportation, and child care. They recruit the students and develop essential community partnerships with social service and cultural organizations, colleges, and universities, who support our students and their families and continue to do so after graduation.

Nationally, The Clemente Course in the Humanities provides the platform for these courses to take off. We seek out new opportunities for local courses; assist startups through professional development and curriculum design; provide seed funding and technical support; ensure academic standards, assess outcomes, and foster the growth of new programs until they are self sustaining


Recent News

Meet Arendt Speser

Academic Director, Clemente Course, Port Townsend, WA

Dr. Arendt Speser

There’s a new kid on the Clemente block. In 2017, Dr. Arendt Oak Speser joined the team as the new academic director of Jefferson Clemente. He’s the program’s second director, stepping into the role vacated by Clemente National Program Director Lela Hilton, who founded the Port Townsend, WA, program in 1999.

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Meet Rosa Garza-Mourino

Professor in Bridge, Antioch University Los Angeles

Anyone who wonders how the experience of studying the humanities translates to the real world should talk to Rosa Garza-Mourino.

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Meet Jean Cheney

Twelve years after founding Venture, a Clemente-inspired course in Utah, Dr. Jean Cheney is more convinced than ever of the value of humanities education. “It opens people up to new ways of thinking about themselves and their world. And it empowers them to make changes they want to make going forward,” she says. “I am a believer because of what I have witnessed.”

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