The Chapel Hill-Carrboro chapter of the NAACP has moved its annual scholarship fundraising online, facilitating the ability for the scholarship contest to be held even in a time of social distancing.
Each year, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro chapter awards several $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors continuing their education, along with smaller ongoing scholarships over their four college years.
These scholarships are largely fueled by community donations. This year’s fundraising campaign is being hosted through GoFundMe and shared through the chapter's Listserv, the website and social media pages to combat the lack of circulation through physical means.
In December of 2019, newly elected scholarship committee chair Jarveal Baker shifted the application and selection processes online.
Baker said the committee complimented him on the organization and ease of these changes at the time, but months later as people are living and working remotely, the shift online has been all the more crucial.
He said five of this year's 16 applicants will be awarded a scholarship after the committee reviews all applications and hosts virtual interviews, and a decision will be made by the end of May.
Chapter president Anna Richards said this scholarship filled a critical need for students who have the skill but lack the means to attend college.
“There are a lot of young people who have brilliant minds and have leadership qualities and who are committed to the community but don’t have the funds, or need extra help, to be able to get an education,” Richards said.
Richards said the organization hopes to raise $15,000 for the scholarships by May 29. As of May 17, donors have given over $2,300 via GoFundMe. Richards said the slow rate of donations may be due to the financial insecurities of many during the coronavirus pandemic and higher rate of unemployment.
However, Richards said several families and a local church have donated sums up to $1,000 to honor loved ones. The Ashley Osment scholarship is one of these larger continuous donations from a local family.
According to the scholarship website, “Tomorrow Matters” is the theme of this year’s campaign. Several previous scholarship recipients submitted videos to the page that capture their appreciation for their scholarship and for the ways that money has impacted their college experience.
Kalkidan Miller, a first-year student at Guilford College in Greensboro and a 2019 Ashley Osment scholarship recipient, said in her own video that she was grateful to the committee for the opportunities the scholarship has allowed her to pursue.
“It has allowed me to go in depth in studies of racial and gender inequities that align with the NAACP goals and also with mine, my future plans and human rights,” Miller said.
Richards said several scholarships this year will be named after community members who passed last year, including Dr. Charles van der Horst, a local doctor and activist, and Fred Battle, a former chapter president.
Baker said new scholarship recipients will likely be posted on their website to give them recognition, especially as graduations and senior award nights have been canceled where scholarships have been presented in previous years.
Richards said it is crucial for these young scholars to continue to receive recognition and support in such tumultuous times.
“We think it is really important to recognize that need and do what we can to support young people as they are trying to complete their education," Richards said.
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