Scholarship America, the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship and education support organization, celebrated 33 Scholarship America Dream Award recipients—students with financial need who have overcome significant barriers to make it to college—during its fifth annual Dreams to Success event. The Dreams to Success Awards Dinner, held on May 15 at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., raised more than $770,000 to support Scholarship America Dream Award scholarships. More than 350 leaders in education, government, business and philanthropy attended the event.
“We are very grateful to our generous sponsors and donors who helped us raise funds to support future Dream Award scholarships,” says Robert C. Ballard, president and CEO of Scholarship America. “The program has achieved a 100 percent graduation rate and many of the students go on to pursue advanced degrees. What’s more, many of our Dreams to Success award recipients often give back by serving others and are involved in community service. We are committed to ensuring any student pursuing higher education has the support needed to achieve success.”
Richard Lui, news anchor for MSNBC and NBC news, served as emcee. Singer songwriter Jax, an American Idol finalist, performed. She is a Scholarship America Families of Freedom Scholarship recipient. Her father is a firefighter who was injured while on duty during the 9/11 attacks.
Scholarship America Honors were presented to the Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures Scholarship, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars, to spotlight these organizations for their impactful, creative scholarship programs.Through its Remarkable Futures Scholarships that are available to restaurant team members, Chick-fil-A awards two types of scholarships: True Inspiration Scholarships ($25,000) and Leadership Scholarships ($2,500). Each can be used for any area of study at any accredited two- or four-year college, university, or technical/vocational school. Since 1973, Chick-fil-A has helped 53,000 team members achieve their remarkable futures through a total investment of $75 million in scholarships. This year alone, Chick-fil-A awarded $15.34 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 team members.
Chick-fil-A’s initiative is one of the highest unrestricted per-employee scholarship investments in the restaurant industry. It is based on founder S. Truett Cathy’s strong belief in empowering young people to achieve their dreams. In a 2018 survey, 60 percent of recipients stated this scholarship made it possible for them to attend college, with 20 percent being first-generation college students.
The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation provides an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Since 1986, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has supported over 1,400 college students each year with annual scholarships totaling $3.55 million. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 30th class in 2018, the Foundation has provided over 6,000 Coca-Cola Scholars with more than $66 million in educational support.
Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars (DRDFS) provides students with the knowledge, resources, and experiences to help get them to the next level. The organization is highly engaged in student participants' lives for three years leading up to high school graduation to ensure dollars invested have the greatest possible impact. Programming includes: SAT test preparation, etiquette training, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion workshops, campus visits, and other support.
While just 45 percent of Michigan students enroll into post-secondary education, 81 percent of DRDFS graduates enroll. Statewide, 18 percent of Michigan college students will graduate with a degree in six years, compared to 68 percent of DRDFS students on track to graduate within six years. This year, DRDFS is serving over 350 students, and providing nearly half a million dollars in scholarships to the class of 2019.
Crystel Minor, a biology major at Xavier University in Louisiana and a Scholarship America Dream Award Scholar told her story of growing up in poverty and aspiring to become an OB-GYN. The Dream Award is a renewable scholarship program for students with financial need who have overcome barriers and successfully started their college education. To date, 86 students have received Dream Award scholarships, totaling nearly $1.5 million.
Dream Award recipients from coast-to-coast have overcome major obstacles in their lives to follow their educational dreams. They include aspiring engineers, doctors, nurses, scientists, a biochemist, geologist, communication majors, a speech pathologist; and those focused on the television/film industry, finance/accounting and political science. See a full list of 2019 Dream Award Recipients here.