Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I want to apply for an award. Where do I start?

A.  Go to Awards -- Overview of the Application Process. This page will guide you through the entire application process. 

Q.  Why should I contribute to Quaqua when I have other uses for my money, perhaps including money or supplies for a home-educated student who probably isn't sufficiently qualified to receive an award?  Doesn't charity begin at home?

A.  Serving one's fellow human beings and trying to contribute to the general health of civic society is an inherently worthy endeavor. Beyond that, however, there are other more self-serving reasons for contributing to Quaqua. 

First, the ever-threatening hand of government interference and regulation is activated or stayed largely on the basis of public opinion.  Public opinion, in turn, is best shaped and persuaded by information about the outstanding results home education achieves for children.  Quaqua provides a systematic, credible, continuous, and effective way for home educators to present their outstanding achievements to the press and to the general public.  The home-educated graduates assisted by Quaqua will go on to influence society for good, contribute to other Quaqua recipients, and open new doors for home education.  Everyone benefits when the government is held back from further interference with home education. 

Second, effective organizations, volunteers, and deeds tend to have a ripple effect.  Quaqua will probably induce other organizations to 1) imitate Quaqua and offer general scholarships for home-educated students; 2) streamline onerous admissions and employment policies and other barriers to fair access and participation; 3) cover alternative-education activities in the press; 4) operate in a fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory manner in providing assistance to our diverse community; and 5) accept home-educators as the intelligent contributors to society that we have always been. 

Third, Quaqua brings in tax-deductible funds and assistance for home education that otherwise would not exist.  Volunteers and organizations who have no direct ties to home education, and who would not otherwise contribute, are participating to assist the home-education community.  Your contribution, even if small, will help us demonstrate the kind of grass-roots support that will prompt others to make contributions and matching donations.  That process will allow Quaqua to give more awards to more students. 

Fourth, Quaqua is designed to encourage career support and community cooperation which will directly benefit many alternative educators besides our award recipients.

Fifth, Quaqua provides an avenue for members of the alternative-education community to collectively express their appreciation to those people who have contributed so much to all of us through public service, often at great personal sacrifice.

Sixth, and last but not least, Quaqua will help home educators to stretch harder, achieve more, and reach out to other people they otherwise might not have had the chance to encounter.

Q.  I would like to volunteer, but there are heavy burdens on my time.

A.  Quaqua is always interested in recruiting reliable, creative, pragmatic, tolerant, service-minded people from a wide variety of backgrounds. To make this possible, we have developed a very flexible approach to our operations. Volunteers can limit their participation to any number of hours, a specific set of days, a specific time of day, and/or a particular year, and still make a very meaningful contribution to Quaqua and the alternative-education community. Quaqua is also committed to a streamlined approach that ensures volunteer time will be efficiently utilized, minimally burdened, and meaningfully incorporated.

Q.  What if I know of an outstanding home-education graduate, either personally or from reputation, who is deserving of an award but is not aware of Quaqua?

A.  Please contact them and give them the website address.  Also, Quaqua is unique in that we will accept nominations and proactively seek to identify the best candidates in the world. The application process is but one component of our expansive effort to leave no stone unturned in locating and evaluating top award prospects. Within the constraints of available resources and circumstances, Quaqua will pursue promising leads and attempt to contact unusually promising candidates. We will gather information and tell them what they can do to receive further consideration.

Q.  What if an applicant has already won an honor from some other alternative-education organization which is defined by geographic locale, demographic characteristics, pedagogy, or political philosophy?

A.  The applicant should note the honor in his or her application. Quaqua will give some weight to the honor, much as it will assign weight to other credentials, even if Quaqua has no formal relationship with the sponsoring organization or program. The weight assigned by Quaqua will depend upon the level of selectivity and accomplishment represented by the honor.

To the extent that its resources permit, Quaqua also reviews notices of honors given by other organizations in order to identify promising potential nominees for Quaqua awards.

Q. People with my background, philosophical views, or demographic characteristics are not sufficiently represented within the Quaqua Society, and I am concerned about the possibility of bias.

A.  Please contact us and volunteer! We welcome your input and participation, which will help us to achieve desirable balance and diversity in our operations. We will carefully consider specific tips you provide about possible improvements or potential new participants.

Quaqua has made a concerted effort to notify national and local alternative-education organizations and outlets about the opportunities Quaqua provides, but we obviously have no control over how effectively they share this information with their own members. 

Q.  I don't need to participate in Quaqua, because currently I have no children who are of college age.

A.  Actually, you are in an ideal position to help! Families who have children of college age are often in a position to receive scholarship assistance rather than give it. People without college-bound children are in an excellent position to assess applicants. Parents with younger children stand to benefit from the funds and goodwill currently being accumulated by Quaqua for the benefit of future applicants. People with no children, or with adult children, benefit from participation in meaningful service.

Q.  I am displeased because I feel Quaqua is in error with respect to its organizational design, policies, programs or program rules, an action it has taken or failed to take, an action or expression taken or not taken by one of its officials, or something that was or was not communicated by Quaqua through its web site or other communications. 

A.  Please contact Quaqua with a letter, using the postal address listed under "Resources" -- "Contacting the Quaqua Society," and notify us about your concern. We will do our best to find a mutually-acceptable solution. Quaqua and its programs have been designed through ongoing consultation with numerous and diverse individuals and communities, collected feedback, and targeted revision.

We don't claim to be perfect and have only limited resources, but we are committed to doing our best to serve the alternative-education community. We hope that if you have a concern with us, you will have the courtesy to contact us with a coherent solution proposal before complaining to third parties. In virtually every case where someone has expressed a concern to us in the past, we have found a mutually-acceptable solution or have otherwise made a significant accommodation.

Q.  Can you provide a brief description of Quaqua for use in my website?

A.  Quaqua Society, Inc.,, is a tax-exempt, non-profit, charitable, pro-bono, all-volunteer foundation. Quaqua provides financial assistance, recognition, and information to outstanding home-education graduates pursuing advanced studies in college or vocational school, regardless of race, religion, worldview, gender, age, geographic residence, citizenship, pedagogy, curriculum, organizational affiliation, income level, or related criteria.

Q.  Can you provide a brief description of what Quaqua does to benefit home educators?

A.  Quaqua provides assistance through various means, including 1) our awards; 2) the scholarship fund we are building (which will eventually grow and allow more general scholarships and state-level scholarships for college); 3) externship opportunities for college/college-graduated home-educated students; 4) networking and “alumni” career connections; 5) links to other websites to aid those searching for other financial aid; 6) links to websites about college standardized tests and college information; 6) links for job searching; 7) links to legal information, including a library of original case law; 8) links for generalized research and tasks commonly of concern to pre-college and college students; and 9) efforts to enhance acceptance of alternative education and educational access for home-educators.

Our goals are to bring money into home-education from outside of our community; to enhance the image of home-education by highlighting success stories; to identify and preserve the common heritage shared by alternative educators; to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the alternative-education movement; to promote service and cooperation; and to provide tools to help home educators plan and excel in college.

Q.  I have a suggestion for improving Quaqua's By-Laws. 

A.  Please contact Quaqua with a letter, using the postal address listed under "Resources" -- "Contacting the Quaqua Society." Send us 1) a written draft of your proposed alternative language, 2) a precise reference to the existing language in the By-Laws that would be altered by your proposal, and 3) the names of all individuals and organizations who have proposed or utilized the alternative provision.

Quaqua revises its By-Laws, Articles, web site, and applications on a periodic and continuous basis, in light of experience and contributed insights. We are most interested in suggestions that 1) simplify processes or ongoing concerns; 2) express ideas more clearly than existing language; 3) address all considerations reflected in existing language; 4) reconcile competing legal, logistical, political, cultural, pedagogical, and financial considerations inherent in Quaqua's attempt to serve a diverse array of alternative educators; 5) appear to serve interests of people unassociated with the proponent or the proponent's interest groups; and 6) have been successfully adopted by, or reviewed and approved by, the membership or leadership of a reputable and diverse organization or coalition.

Quaqua usually takes a promising written draft proposal, along with the name of the proponent, and circulates it to a diverse array of alternative educators for feedback. If the feedback is clearly positive, Quaqua's Board generally votes upon the proposal and any posited variations. If the Board approves the provision, it becomes part of Quaqua's By-Laws.

Q.  What is Quaqua's position regarding commercial vendors and commercial products for alternative educators? 

A.  Quaqua supports the operation of free enterprise. A great variety of commercial and non-profit entities is necessary to help the alternative-education community function, grow, and enrich its common culture. We encourage alternative educators to support organizations, vendors, and products that genuinely enrich the alternative education movement and that invest in the future of alternative-education students.

Q.  Does Quaqua send additional information by post? 

A.  Absent special circumstances, Quaqua does not post additional materials to applicants or the general public. The Quaqua website is designed to be comprehensive. For obvious reasons, Quaqua does send additional materials to media representatives, marketing outlets, grant organizations, vendors, and large contributors.

Q.  Does Quaqua give grants to groups or educational institutions? 

A.  Not at the present time. Quaqua's legal structure is sufficiently flexible to encompass institutional grants, but our top priority is rendering assistance to outstanding individual students. We do not anticipate that this focus will change any time soon. We do, however, assist with obtaining educational supplies for alternative educators in developing countries on a case-by-case basis.

Q.  Must a student attend college or be college-bound to receive the Quaqua Protege Award? 

A.  No. The student must be a home-educated person preparing to pursue further education in an institution of higher learning. "Institution" is interpreted broadly and practically in light of the applicable circumstances, applicable custom, and the sound discretion of the Selection Committee.

"Institution" would include study in a university, college, community college, independent-study college program, vocational school, arts school, institute program, advanced/specialized military training program, advanced apprenticeship program, advanced professional training program, or even a program of advanced self-study under a qualified tutor. The key test is whether the college alternative is roughly equivalent to college in terms of the level of accomplishment and rigor.

Candidly, we do anticipate that the vast majority of recipients from economically-developed countries will be traditional college students. There is, however, no rigid rule requiring every recipient to attend college, nor would Quaqua turn away an otherwise-qualified, outstanding individual who happens to be pursuing a bona-fide alternative to college. Absent unusual circumstances such as economic or physical hardship, we do require that all Protege applicants take a widely-recognized standardized test on which they have score at the 80th percentile or above (top 20%). All recipients must also be on an outstanding trajectory with respect to their current endeavors in life.

Q.  I recently was told something by a journalistic outlet that caused me to feel great discomfort about alternative education, home education, or the Quaqua Society. 

A.  Quaqua encourages everyone to promote responsible and credible journalism in their communities, particularly with respect to material discussing alternative education. In our view, responsible and credible journalism requires the following nonexclusive list of practices:

1) forthright pre-disclosure of general and case-specific editorial policies used to decide what information will, and will not, be communicated to the consumer;

2) forthright pre-disclosure of any interests or background history of the medium or its journalists and editors which might have a significant impact on the general content or specific credibility of journalistic content, advertising, links, or directories;

3) forthright disclosure of the original sources relied upon by the journalist;

4) a consistent record of reporting basic, readily verifiable facts; and

5) a consistent pattern of affording a meaningful, conspicuous response to factual allegations or philosophical arguments propounded by the medium, with such responses composed by independent authors who are sufficiently committed and qualified to defend the opposing viewpoint.

We believe that political or opinion outlets, websites, and directories are also responsible and credible, so long as they disclose their policies. Outlets should clearly differentiate between 1) opinion editorials, selective directories, or information for targeted constituencies, and 2) news journalism, inclusive directories, or information for a general audience.

Quaqua encourages information consumers to be mindful of these practices when evaluating the credibility of material. Remember that journalism can be biased even though responsible and reasonably credible regardless of the topic. Consulting original sources and alternative sources of information is a prudent method for verifying media allegations or representations.

Q.  Does Quaqua utilize "legacy" preferences or "feeder" recommendations?

A.  No.  Quaqua is determined to select award recipients based upon personal merit, as accomplished by a bona fide comparison of objective characteristics.

"Legacy" preferences are policies which award special favors in ostensibly selective processes to relatives of individuals who are alumni, wealthy donors, politically prominent figures, or other individuals with exclusive ties to the institution. The preferences are, essentially, the exploitation of a conflict-of-interest for private special interests. Many elite colleges, for example, use these preferences to favor marginally-qualified children of wealthy families over middle-class children who are more objectively deserving of admission.

A "feeder" recommendation is an institutional practice which grants additional or exclusive weight to a recommendation from a prominent individual or a particular network of people. Many Supreme Court justices, for example, give serious consideration only to those applicants who have recommendations from "feeder" circuit judges, "feeder" law schools (the alma mater of the justice), or a limited group of other legal insiders (former mentors or law clerks of the justice). "Feeder" recommendations are simply disguised "legacy" preferences--a wealthy or connected individual can use their socio-economic advantage to procure a recommendation which will be weighed more heavily by the selecting institution, thereby obtaining an ultimate decision which disfavors other applicants with more objective merit.

Over the long-term, such practices undermine both quality and diversity. They promote dishonesty and public cynicism. They also allow a small network of insiders to exert disproportionate control over the mechanisms of academic and professional development, which imposes an unhealthy conformity upon intellectual and creative processes.

Relatives of individuals who are alumni, wealthy donors, politically prominent figures, or closely tied to Quaqua can apply for Quaqua awards. However, the institution has conflict-of-interest rules in place to ensure that all applicants are chosen strictly on the basis of personal achievement. In some cases, special steps are necessary to protect the selection process, and these are set forth in the Bylaws. Individuals who are concerned about complying with conflict-of-interest rules should contact Quaqua before submitting their application. Additionally, Quaqua does not give a recommendation heavier or exclusive weight simply because it was authored by a prominent individual.

Q.  Am I required to have my biography or photograph posted on the Quaqua website in order to volunteer?

A.  No.  We encourage key volunteers to do so in order to help the public appreciate Quaqua's talented and diverse pool of volunteers. However, many of our volunteers choose not to do so.  Such a choice is not held to their disadvantage.  The "Volunteer biographies" page is generally reserved for volunteers who are filling posts described in Quaqua's By-Laws.

Similarly, if placed on timely notice, Quaqua will do its best to accomodate applicants, award recipients, contributors, and others who have special security or privacy needs.

Q.  Am I required to agree with the content of Quaqua site pages, such as "Practical Wisdom" or "The Quaqua Society and Diversity," in order to participate with Quaqua or obtain an award?

A.    No. Requirements are specified by the By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, and application forms.

Many of the web site pages explain the culture and philosophy of Quaqua in conducting its own internal operations and evaluations. Quaqua must have an organization and culture in order to be cohesive and oversee fiduciary activities. However, we do not attempt to impose our approach upon others or require award recipients to agree with every item we post. The structure, bylaws, policies, and other components are not designed to reflect the opinion of any particular individual or demographic segment.

Quaqua does not seek out divisive issues that do not have a direct and essential nexus with alternative education. When we are constrained to confront a divisive matter as an organization, we generally try to respect the majority will of alternative educators and find a principled, fair way to proceed. We try to leave the choices up to you.

Q.  What are Quaqua's priorities in funding its programs?

A.    Quaqua's priorities are 1) Quaqua Protege Award, 2) Quaqua Elijah Award, 3) Quaqua Merit Awards, 4) Quaqua Parent of the Year Award, 5) Quaqua Talent Awards, 6) Need Awards. If instructions for a particular award have not been posted, it means Quaqua is not yet funding that program. As Quaqua builds its funding resources, it will expand its programs. Quaqua will also attempt to accommodate major donors with special interests (e.g. a donor who wishes to fund a Music Talent Award or a Merit Award for a particular state).

Q.  Are students or volunteers who lack the advantages of support from a traditional family structure eligible to participate in Quaqua's programs?

A.    Yes. Quaqua does everything it can to avoid penalizing any person for the behavior or positions of another independent individual or organization.

Q.  I cannot find the instructions or application for a particular Quaqua award, such as a specific type of talent award or need award. 

A.  All awards currently offered by Quaqua are accessible on the Quaqua website. Awards contemplated as part of Quaqua's development plan are unavailable if the page link for that type award is not constructed or the instructions and application forms are not available. Quaqua expands its programs based upon a set of program priorities and the level of available funds. Quaqua will work with individuals or groups who wish to raise funds for a specific type of program or award that falls within Quaqua's general purpose but has not yet been launched.

Q.  How does Quaqua select the links for its site? 

A.  Quaqua selects links of interest to 1) alternative educators generally, or 2) alternative-education students who are or will be attending an institution of higher learning.

As to category one, we include sites of especially significant value, viewership, or influence relative to the alternative-education community. We try to include notable informational "portals" which will facilitate further in-depth research by the viewer. Also included are sites that are cultural icons, sources of news, or a reflection of some significant component of the alternative-education cultural mosaic.

As to category two, we look for sites that are key to successful completion of college and other programs for advanced education. This would include sites for test-taking, intellectual preparation, admissions, financial aid, scholastic research tools, and completion of essential tasks commonly demanded of most college-age students (e.g. moving, traveling, obtaining credit reports, job-hunting, finding locations, finding people).

All other factors being equal, our links selection favors sites that provide free (but reliable) services or information. In some cases (e.g. Westlaw, Lexus, Free Credit Reports, Expedia), the sites are commercial and are entirely pay-for-use, but we include them anyway because the underlying tasks facilitated by the sites are deemed to be very important to alternative educators.

Quaqua's site is not intended to provide a comprehensive link list of every site in the vast alternative-education community. Therefore, we must have a fair, efficient, tax-viable method for managing the selection of links. We are eager to work with small organizations and vendors in an cohesive, dignified way.

We link to the sites of those small organizations or publications who have reciprocally linked to us. If a vendor site is constituted entirely of pay-access features, commercial promotions, or other material that does not "educate" the public in the general sense without charge, Quaqua will link to the site only if the sponsoring vendor has made a donation to Quaqua's scholarship fund or other approved fund. Links to the commercial sites of sponsoring vendors are found at Commercial and Organizational Friends of Quaqua.

Quaqua separately offers paid advertising opportunities for placement of banners or buttons on its web site. Advertising revenue is applied to scholarships funds and basic operational costs associated with maintaining the website.

Quaqua does not usually link to vendors, regardless of the relevant owner or product, unless the vendor 1) makes a tax-deductible donation to Quaqua and requests that Quaqua include a link to the sponsoring vendor's site, or 2) participates in paid advertising. Please do not contact Quaqua with requests for free vendor links. Please do not contact Quaqua with advertisements for commercial products which do not directly relate to Quaqua's performance of its existing organizational operations.

Quaqua does not endorse a vendor or a vendor's product simply by linking to the vendor or accepting donations from the vendor. The same is true with respect to linked sites sponsored by other entities. Quaqua reserves the right to exercise unbridled discretion in administering its vendor policy, including the right to make exceptions if it would be in Quaqua's best interest.

Q.  I don't believe in grades, portfolios, competition, scholarships, papers, and/or forms.

A.    We respect your views, but our awards and activities are designed to help home-education graduates who are going to study in institutions of advanced learning. Any person who does not live in an environment akin to a Mennonite community is likely to encounter, and be forced to cope with, grades, portfolios, competition, scholarships, papers, and forms.

Coping with a combination of paperwork, rules, and competition is an essential skill in most institutions of higher learning. The same is true of most career paths. By simply preparing information in the format required by Quaqua's application form, which is designed to reflect college form requirements, a student is already one large step closer to successful college admission.

Quaqua also must ration scarce resources based upon objective, comparable criteria. By donating more resources to Quaqua, you can expand the amount of assistance of available. This will lower the level of competition required to obtain some forms of assistance.

Q.  Does Quaqua endorse other organizations?

A.    No. However, we do cooperate with other organizations to achieve common goals and promote common values. We also try to assist parents to find information crucial to making their own informed decisions.

We encourage organizations to be transparent in their operations and honest in their representations. It should be readily possible for a casual observer to ascertain how organizational leaders are chosen, what membership criteria are applied, what the governing organizational documents (including by-laws and articles) require, what contributions will be used to support, and what an organization's official position is as to the various issues Quaqua has addressed in its own website. Caution is merited, since the mere fact that a position or practice is not written does not mean that an organization lacks a position or that the matter is unimportant enough for a policy.

So long as people are fully informed, we strongly support their right of associational expression to promote whatever legal cause, viewpoint, culture, curriculum, or merchandise they prefer. No one organization can meet all needs for all people.

Q. I am a college student and would like to volunteer for Quaqua, but is academic credit available?

A. On a case-by-case basis, and based upon need, Quaqua cooperates with various collegiate externship programs designed to provide students with college credit for their hands-on organizational experience. For example, Brigham Young University has granted college credit to students doing marketing and public relations projects for Quaqua. Students in education, accounting, information management, business, youth leadership, organizational behavior, law, and related fields are also eligible to do Quaqua externships if they obtain formal consent from their sponsoring college.

Students may not be externs if they are applying for a Quaqua Award during the same calendar year as their externship, and no applicant may list completed Quaqua externship experience on an application for a Quaqua award. No Quaqua volunteer may write a recommendation to Quaqua on behalf of an award applicant who was a former extern. Other special screening may be required if the applicant was a former extern. Quaqua retains complete and unqualified discretion in accepting externship proposals.

Q. I have a child who is home-educated and is or soon will be eligible for a Quaqua Award. Does that mean I have a conflict-of-interest and should stay uninvolved with Quaqua?

A. If you have an interest in Quaqua, please volunteer. Simply alert us to any concern you might have about a possible conflict of interest. In many cases there will be no material conflict.

Even when there is a conflict, our Board and legal counsel will be able to identify appropriate positions and remedial steps for you to take to facilitate your proper participation. Conflicts are primarily of concern only where selection of awards or high office in Quaqua is concerned. Obviously we don't want someone who has a relative (direct descendant; second cousin, great aunt, or closer in blood or adoption) applying for an award to be making award selections. Other conflicts might arise with Selection Committee members that jeopardize reasonable objectivity and require recusal or some other adjustment, such as a godfather relationship, very close family friend, etc.

Some high offices such as Chief Executive Officer, Treasurer, Attorney, or Board member, which implicate the control or internal integrity of Quaqua's finances and operations, also require traditional conflicts analysis under various codes of professional and corporate law. For example, a Chief Executive Officer who decided to run for a position of political office at the national level would be required to resign for the duration of the campaign and any resulting public service.

In many cases disclosure alone will allow the Board to resolve the conflict concern. Additionally, be aware that conflicts analysis is rarely a problem for most of Quaqua's work, including crucial efforts connected with fundraising, public relations, organization of ceremonies, and organization of volunteers.

Q. How does Quaqua decide where its activities and awards ceremonies will be held, and which organizations and conventions will host an event for a particular year?

A. Wherever possible, Quaqua coordinates with existing organizations, events, leaders and publications within the home-education community. We are not interested in replacing or supplanting other cultural or organizational strictures. Our aim is to fill a niche that has previously been unfilled.

The first question is whether a particular locale, organization or convention appears to have interest in cooperating with us to bring Quaqua services to local home educators. Sometimes Quaqua will approach others to gauge the level of enthusiasm. We suspect, however, that in many cases the most enthusiastic participants will contact us before we manage to contact them. We do not intend to launch an ongoing local presence without having the input and enthusiastic volunteer support of local home educators. The local home educators have great input in shaping the process, making an event happen, and imparting a "local flavor" to the ceremonial atmospherics. We hope there will be an appropriate sense of "local pride" in those applicants and recipients from a particular realm. Quaqua encourages thoughtful expression of distinctive local culture or religion at our hosts' events.

The second question is whether the locale, organization or convention appears to have access to the resources and support necessary for a suitable ceremony or activity. Obviously it is important to have a sufficiently large crowd, adequate facilities, fiscal solvency, public relations aptitude, and an atmosphere that is conducive to the objectives of the Quaqua program. We would look at the proposal plan for cooperation and the past record of results. We would want to make sure that all of our relevant awards recipients would be made to feel welcome.

Third, we would scrutinize Quaqua's current position and resources to see if it made sense for Quaqua to expand into the proposed locale. All else being equal, we would prefer to bring our awards ceremonies to those geographic regions where the level of excellence is high, and where there is a record of participation and achievement with Quaqua.

Fourth, if we have two or more organizations, events, or publications who are interested in the same Quaqua cooperation opportunity (e.g. two conventions both wish to host the Quaqua awards ceremony in the same city for the same year), we would look to see who had established the most reliable track-record with us in the past and what seemed most fair in light of all circumstances. In some cases that would mean rotating the opportunity from year-to-year.

Frankly, as is the case with nearly everything else, there is an inertia to matters such as these. It is actually easier in many respects for Quaqua not to utilize numerous cooperating conventions, but we do make an effort to include a wide community. Acting sooner rather than later usually operates to a convention's advantage.

Q.    What is Quaqua’s approach to money management?

A.  Quaqua seeks to maximize the amount of funds that go to the promotion of home education and to recipient home-education graduates.  Wherever possible, we use volunteer resources and labor and otherwise seek to minimize overhead and expenses.  Funds are handled in accordance with generally-accepted practices of accounting and financial management. We try to keep funds in the hands of professional financial institutions whenever possible. 

Quaqua pays out in compliance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, and we take steps to verify that our funds are going to proper educational purposes. Usually we pay one bulk sum directly to the recipient's institution of choice.  However, Quaqua’s awards are honors first and scholarships second; Quaqua will only pay out scholarship monies and make other expenditures based upon what we receive in donations.  We guarantee only fund amounts which are posted at the applicable time on our website.  A low level of donations means we can't give many scholarships or as much per scholarship.
Q.  Why has Quaqua spelled out an extensive structure as well as guidelines for situations that have not yet arisen (e.g. allocation-of-fund formulas for multiple Merit Awards, regional divisions for multi-level competition, rules for the naming of future scholarships)?

A.  Quaqua has a careful, comprehensive, fair and transparent plan for operation, which we are excited to share with people.  We also thought it best to let people know where Quaqua is likely (not certain) to go in the future, in order to try to preclude any future feeling on anyone's part that a "bait-and-switch" had occurred or that some hidden agenda was at work. 

In the case of allocation of resources, for example, we want people to know this will be governed by objective criteria that will apply across the board. Quaqua does not rely upon geographic-based expansion for future success, but we do have provisions to handle many different contingencies on a fair and open basis. 

Also, by addressing the thorny details connected with an home-education awards program ahead of time, we hope to avoid the confusion, conflict, legal jeopardy, and mistakes that might arise if we procrastinated consideration of the details until after the emergence of a stressful crisis or controversy. Quaqua is designed to allow participation and cooperation by people of many different backgrounds, so rules are required to ensure fair and even-handed operation. An institution without careful checks, balances, procedures, and conflict rules will, even if originally started for noble reasons, be susceptible to the eventual perpetuation of the very kind of vice and oppression it was initially intended to mitigate.

If our approach is flawed, we can tap the public's wisdom before an actual problem arises.  Of course, sometimes experience proves an expectation to be totally incorrect and impractical, but even in that case Quaqua has a well-defined and transparent procedure for adjusting its course.

Last, but not least, Quaqua must comply with an complex set of local, state, national, and international laws, including tax, corporate, contract, advertising, trust, and internet law. Without a carefully-developed structure, Quaqua could not function in a legal manner. Our articles, by-laws, and structures reflect the arcane set of legal, logistical, political, cultural, pedagogical, and financial realities that govern the alternative-education community.

Q. Why does Quaqua place some restrictions upon participant and volunteer conduct?

A.  Quaqua is a service organization that affords some functions of an alumni and scholarship association. We are committed to serving as many alternative educators as possible in an even-handed, fiscally-efficient manner. We are committed to highlighting the accomplishments and goals of home-educating families and students rather than imposing our own agenda. Some rules and procedures are necessary to accomplish this objective, and Quaqua is unique in the alternative-education community because of its implementation of such rules and procedures.

Quaqua will not allow its funds or programs to be co-opted for singular political, economic, or cultural agendas that should be promulgated through other avenues. Quaqua will not permit exploitation of improper conflicts-of-interest, efforts to disrupt organizational functions, efforts to harass or disadvantage selected Quaqua participants or recipients, or efforts to harm or distort or dilute Quaqua's message or imprimatur. We will not allow circumstances or conduct that would endanger or prejudice Quaqua's recipients, participants, financial assets, or tax-exempt status. Quaqua seeks participants and recipients who want to get involved to help home education and other home educators, not to advance personal interests or concerted ideological agendas unrelated to Quaqua's core purpose.

Quaqua's bylaws, site of incorporation, contractual provisions, notices, and other measures are designed to serve the public interest by minimizing the amount of money diverted from scholarship recipients to litigants or bureaucrats who might choose to file frivolous lawsuits.

Many Quaqua participants and recipients act in fiduciary or representative capacities. It is widely recognized in the law and custom of corporate and pageant communities that unique opportunities and responsibilities attend individuals who choose to be fiduciaries or organizational representatives. Quaqua is committed to helping those people who wish to reach out and serve those beyond their own circle of acquaintance and self-interest.

Quaqua is also committed to including volunteers and recipients with diverse backgrounds and opinions. We are particular about only the core principles which are essential to the viable existence of alternative education and of Quaqua. Volunteers or recipients who wish to express their strong personal opinions about controversial subjects which are outside of Quaqua's ambit are welcome to do so, provided they (1) conduct their efforts independently of Quaqua, (2) avoid implicating Quaqua's resources, mechanisms, communication systems, or imprimatur in the disemination of their personal message, and (3) do nothing to prejudice Quaqua or endanger Quaqua's participants.  

Q.  What is the history of Quaqua? 

A. Quaqua is the first scholarship and awards program of any kind open to all alternative educators throughout the United States (not to mention throughout the world).

Quaqua is also the first, and only, scholarship and awards program for alternative educators which is at once tax-exempt, charitable, merit-based, and free from any eligibility restrictions based upon geographic locale, demographic characteristics, or organizational affiliation.

As a last "first," Quaqua is the first, and only, scholarship and awards program for alternative educators with a comprehensive set of procedures designed to provide a controlled merit selection process, organizational transparency, and demographically-diverse volunteer leadership participation.

Dan first started floating the idea of an awards and scholarship program to home education leaders back in 1991. He continued to advocate and develop the concept in an informal way until 1999.

During 1999, which was the first year after Dan's 1998 graduation from law school, the effort accelerated. Dan wrote and spoke about the concept to numerous leaders in alternative education from across America and around the world. He never ceased to widely circulate plans, invite participation, and gather feedback about how to make the program inclusive, meaningful, credible, and fair.

By the spring of 2000,Dan had roughed out the basic organizational and legal scheme for his concept, and felt prepared to implement his concept for the onset of a new millennium. Dan commenced Quaqua's first search for the most outstanding example of home-education in action that he could find anywhere in the world. In June 2000, George Abraham Thampy made national headlines by placing first in the National Spelling Bee and second in the National Geography Bee.

By early 2001, and after the consideration of numerous other impressive candidates in consultation with informed collaborators, Dan confirmed that George Thampy would be Quaqua's first Protege Award recipient. While continuing the ongoing process of polishing all aspects of Quaqua, Dan worked with selected home-education leaders to make the arrangements needed to fully honor George Thampy. Dan also vetted nominees to be the 2001 recipients of the Quaqua Elijah Award, and made similar arrangements for them. His organizational outreach continued unabated.

By summer of 2001, Dan had identified the designs and names that Quaqua would use as service marks. He initiated the lengthy formal process required to secure legal protection for Quaqua's service marks and copyrighted material. During the latter half of 2001, he wrote the pages for the Quaqua website and, with the assistance of his team, soon had the website online. He also filed the extensive legal paperwork required to formally designate Quaqua as a tax-exempt, non-profit, charitable corporation. To create a convenient "fiscal tax year" and avoid extraneous costs, Dan delayed Quaqua's incorporation date from summer 2001 until January 7, 2002.

Having put all of the other components into place, Dan and his team intensified outreach efforts in 2002. Through advertising, interpersonal communication, phone calls, and other efforts, Dan welcomed all segments of the home-education community and continued to search for the best talent he could find.

Although Quaqua is committed to continuous improvement, Dan is proud of how far the Society has already progressed. He also believes that his efforts have spurred other home educators to think more intensely about the need to provide award programs, enhance college access, and new opportunities for financial aid. Dan believes that his push for Quaqua has inspired others to develop additional unaffiliated programs for recognizing and aiding outstanding home-education students.

Dan will continue to draw on his own experience as a home-education graduate to help Quaqua provide a positive example of service outreach and civil cooperation. He also anticipates that Quaqua will continue to inspire others to develop the new ideas and programs needed to preserve the vitality of a rapidly evolving alternative-education community.

Q. Were there other considerations or concerns that motivated Dan Witte to found Quaqua?

A. Dan was concerned that the spirit of service and pioneering civic leadership was slipping away from the home-education community. He observed an increased trend towards commercialization and politicization of home-education and felt there should be a clear, meaningful, and semi-democratic outlet for people who wanted to render a unique service to youth and to home education.

Dan also thought there should be a common forum for diverse home-educators to share their talents, share in the spirit of cooperation, and press each other to new heights of excellence through friendly and positive competition. As a home-education graduate he encountered numerous obstacles to full and fair participation in scholastic and scholarship programs. He observed instances where the accomplishments of the home-education community were not accorded commensurate coverage in the press and in circles where resources and career opportunities were allocated. Dan felt his own experience as a home-educated graduate, as opposed to a parent home-educator or career home-educator, would be particularly relevant to help address the needs Quaqua is designed to meet.

Finally, Dan thought there should be a mechanism for remembering the educational pioneers of the past and for celebrating educational stars of the future. He wanted to create a common symbol, tradition, and institutional memory that would benefit all home educators by helping to protect civil liberties through the power of example.

Q. Why not just develop a recognition and scholarship program that operates through an existing home-education organization?

A. Dan Witte did raise the idea with a number of organizations over a number of years. Nothing ultimately developed from the discussions.  Dan ultimately came to recognize the crux of the conundrum: an inherent conflict-of-interest would hamper any existing organization that catered to a specific demographic segment of the home-education community, defined its own identity in a geocentric way, promoted a particular ideology or pedagogy, serviced private or public schools, marketed a curriculum, sold information or commercial supplies, had close ties to one or more existing institutions of higher learning, worked within a system of formal organizational alliances, had an entrenched political or legal reputation, or had a material or controlling tie to some organization or person with an entrenched reputation. 

Even if one or more of the existing organizations had been genuinely interested in offering a fair awards program for all home educators, one or more of the above characteristics would have forced the organization to operate under a cloud of actual or perceived bias. The organization(s) would have had an awkward duty to disclose numerous conflicts of interest to donors, the general home-education community, and the public. 

Additionally, and for obvious reasons, a credible awards program for the general home-education community must be administered and controlled (though not necessarily funded and promoted) by people who 1) have time available for service, 2) hail from a diverse range of backgrounds, 3) operate free of pronounced commercial interests, private pecuniary motives, or reliance upon a narrow market niche, and 4) are not surrounded by relatives, parishioners, long-time political allies, or other close social contacts who are in likely positions to receive the awards.  These requirements run directly counter to the profile of many of the people who are most likely to be involved with the existing home-education organizations. 

Dan decided to create a “stand-alone” organization that would start with a “clean slate.” Quaqua's focus is on providing awards and financial assistance to members of the general alternative-education community.  Dan (and other relevant leaders of Quaqua) will make every effort to withdraw from administration of or involvement in any matter which might implicate him or them in a material conflict-of-interest.

Q. Do the terms "alternative education," "home education," "home schooling," "unschooling," "distance learning," "private school," “pedagogue,” "ideologue," and "mainstreamer" have different meanings?

A. For internal purposes, the Quaqua Society assigns different meanings to the terms "alternative education," "home education," "home schooling," "unschooling," "distance learning," "private school," “pedagogue,” "ideologue," and "mainstreamer" (although we have not yet rendered our written usage entirely consistent, because space constraints and public communication logistics do not permit us to do so).

"Alternative education" includes home education, private schooling, and distance learning that does not predominantly take place in a government-sponsored school.

"Home education" is any form of education where the learner inputs new information in an environment dominated by the home, self, and/or family rather than other institutions or social settings. "Home education" encompasses "home schooling," "unschooling," and other pedagogical approaches to home-based learning.

"Home school" refers to the subset of home educators who utilize structured pedagogical paradigms. Typically these pedagogical paradigms are consciously derived from one or more cultural, religious, philosophical, institutional, or pedagogical traditions or systems. A "religious home schooler" is a subset of all home schoolers, a person who looks to religion to help consciously structure or shape the student learning experience.

"Unschooling" is a "free-flowing" form of home education that relies upon student curiosity and interests to define what, how, when, where, and why a student learns.

"Distance learning" is a structured educational program offered by an institutional or commercial sponsor, typically using satellite or electronic or posted instructional material, involving a student who is inputting information in a home environment or other environment not dominated by the physical auspices of an external academic or commercial institution.

"Private schooling" is an educational institution, sponsored by a non-governmental entity or person, that teaches students within permanent physical facilities which are outside the realm of the home or family.

"Schooling" is different than "education." "Schooling" implies the systematic inculcation of behavioral norms, while "education" involves any form of learning that enhances problem-solving ability. Although some forms of instruction and schooling can facilitate education, it is easily possible for a person to be instructed or schooled without being educated.

One should also remember that home education encompasses a spectrum of activity, and many (if not most) home educators utilize a mixture of home schooling and unschooling. Many, if not most, home educators also supplement their study programs with tutors or supplementary class work. Some home educators, called "ecclectic" home educators, consciously draw from different alternative-education approaches to tailor an program which they believe will best suit the particularities of each individual child.

“Pedagogues” are home educators of any kind who are primarily motivated to home educate because of views concerning pedagogical efficiency, psychological health, safety, or proper socialization.

“Ideologues” are home educators of any kind who are primarily motivated to home educate because of ethical, cultural, moral, philosophical, or religious values which cannot be fulfilled to the same degree through other educational means.

“Mainstreamers” are individuals who 1) participate in tax-funded pre-college educational programs, or cause their custodial wards to participate, or 2) voluntarily seek out governmental supervision, monitoring, or approval for the pre-college educational studies or childraising, either personally or with respect to minors in their custody. “Charter schools,” “cyber-charters,” “e-schools,” “independent study programs,” “dual enrollment,” “blended school programs,” “programs for non-public students,” “public school alternative programs,” “virtual schools,” “academies,” “community schools,” “home bound,” “troubled youth rehabilitation,” "IDEA programs for the disabled," and similar arrangements usually constitute variations of “mainstreaming.”

Quaqua considers “mainstreamers” to be a sub-set of “alternative educators” when they have a significant pre-college “distance learning” component that predominates over study in public physical institutional facilities. “Mainstreaming” is not considered part of “home education” or “home schooling,” because the latter two variants of alternative education transpire independent of government funding or control to the maximum extent practicable. Quaqua supports the right of home-educating parents to decline government monitoring, funding, approval, and curriculum controls. Quaqua also supports preservation of home education as a distinct category of alternative education.

Mainstreamers may participate in Quaqua volunteer positions and scholarship competitions, so long as all applicable Quaqua eligibility requirements are met and the mainstreamer represents that they are committed to the core principles reflected in Quaqua’s bylaws and on Quaqua's website.

Q. I would like to help, but I lack the necessary qualifications.

A.  Quaqua does not rely solely upon credentials or fame to recruit, involve, or promote participants. We are more interested in practical ability and reliability. These qualities do not perfectly correlate with credentials or academic honors. Quaqua openly recognizes that many people in many different professions have achieved the highest levels of success without possessing conventional or extensive educational credentials.

Home-educated Abraham Lincoln was derided by the chattering political class in Washington as an unsophisticated ape. Home-educated Albert Einstein was initially rebuffed by the academic elite of his day. Stephen Spielberg's ascent in the film industry took place after he was rejected by the University of Southern California Film Department and dropped out of Long Beach State (he belatedly graduated from Long Beach State by submitting the script for the motion picture "Schindler's List"). Bill Gates dominated the computer industry after dropping out of college. Ronald Reagan's sole academic credential was a bachelor's degree from Eureka College, a small school in Illinois. Justice Robert Jackson, a home-educated member of the Supreme Court who never graduated from law school, selected Chief Justice William Rehnquist as a law clerk and was identified as Justice Antonin Scalia's "favorite justice."

This pattern manifests itself with great frequency, and Quaqua expects that the future will continue to repeat the past. We welcome talent, character, and well-adjusted individuals, whatever the origin.

For more on this topic, read the Practical Wisdom page of this site.