North suburban bike ride supports scholarship program
Women cyclists leave the Ryerson Conservation Area stop in Riverwoods during the Venus de Miles road ride Sunday to support the Greenhouse Scholars program. | Michael Jarecki~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 31, 2012 8:16PM
RIVERWOODS — More than 400 women rode through the north suburban region Sunday as part of the Venus de Miles bicycling fundraiser, benefitting the organization Greenhouse Scholars.
This is the first year Greenhouse Scholars has held the all-women’s road ride in Illinois. The organization supports high-achieving students who are in need, and began supporting Illinois students this year, Venus de Miles Director Teresa Robbins said.
“There’s a phenomenal need for a program such as our own in Illinois,” Robbins said.
Greenhouse Scholars selected seven Illinois students to receive up to $1,500 a year in grants and $5,000 a year toward a college education.
Scholars receive internship opportunities, are connected with a mentor and take part in peer support programs, Robbins said. Greenhouse Scholars was first established in Colorado seven years ago by Pete Burridge, a native of Hinsdale.
Burridge runs Greenhouse Partners, an advertising branding company out of Boulder, Colo. He believes companies should connect and give back to the community, and the scholars program was his way of doing so.
“I wanted to figure out where I thought I could make the most impact, at least across the United States,” Burridge said.
He considered supporting programs that focus on the environment, poverty and water issues, among other topics. He decided to support education.
“If you can change education in the United States, you can change the landscape … and get people to create solutions for all kinds of other things,” Burridge said.
Nicholas Tarleton of Westchester is among the Illinois scholars to receive support this year. The graduate of the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy plans to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study food science and human nutrition.
Through Greenhouse Scholars, Tarleton has connected with Brian Weed, the Chief Executive Officer of Tricoci University, who is working as his mentor.
“So far I’ve learned from him that the world is full of connections,” Tarleton said. “Networking is really something I have to step my game up and do. There are people out there in the world that have information. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed. I have to learn to speak up and reach out to others.”
Tarleton is a first generation college student in his family. Thanks to Greenhouse Scholars, Tarleton purchased a laptop computer for college. It’s the first computer he’s owned.
Without Greenhouse, he said, he might not even have the opportunity to attend college.
“Greenhouse Scholars is supporting me morally, spiritually and financially,” he said.
Greenhouse Scholars hoped to raise about $50,000 through its Venus de Miles bike ride on Sunday, Robbins said. The ride took participants on a 61-mile circuit through Lake Forest, Deerfield, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods, Buffalo Grove, Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Mundelein, Libertyville and other towns. There was also a shorter, 25-mile circuit for participants to ride.
Burridge said Greenhouse Scholars is considering expansion into other states. Participating students already attend 32 universities in 20 states nationwide, but there could be further scholars programs established on the East and West coasts.
“We’re really looking at not just the kinds of people who get good grades, that sort of thing, but people who overcome significant odds, people involved in the community, and how we can give them an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise to really take all of that potential and go and be able to realize it as an adult,” Burridge said.