An anonymous donor hopes to motivate more Black student-athletes at a high school in Georgia to get a college education by paying their tuition in exchange for high grades.
The donor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, noticed that the athletic scholarship from Centennial High School lacked diversity.
“When we tweeted out a photo of these scholar-athletes after one of our banquets, it was like 16 kids from the football team, and all but one was White. Our football team does not look like that; our team is predominantly African American,” Centennial High School Athletics Director Jeff Burch told CNN.
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The scholarship comes with strict tough qualifications that require student-athletes to reach a cumulative grade point average above 90, providing Black students with an incentive to work hard and focus on their studies.
According to Burch, the philanthropist has committed to matching every semester that a Black student-athlete gets straight As with a paid semester in college.
“It blew my mind. Many kids thought this was unattainable, they thought they couldn’t do it, but they did. And when they realized what they were capable of, that they can reach the goals they put in mind, it changed their lives,” he said.
Through the Centennial High School African American Football Scholar Athlete Scholarship, five students have already benefited.
Evan Walker, 18, said the initiative has helped him realize his potential. “It pushed me into a different mindset. Either I can be average or be above average, and this made me realize I can get all As, just to prove to myself I can get what I want,” he told CNN.
Walker will now be choosing between a pre-law degree at Purdue University or a civil engineering course at Georgia Southern University and has three semesters worth of college tuition already covered thanks to the scholarship.
“It [the scholarship] really has the potential to spark generational change for those students as they have their own families and kids,” he said.