$1M scholarship aims to make college more accessible to students of color

Education

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — What would you do if you had $1 million to change Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community?

That is, quite literally, the million-dollar question that will win three students college scholarships.

For high school students at Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, it’s an opportunity that isn’t always accessible.

“Minority communities are not really heard or talked about a lot,” senior Carl Jefferson said.

Jefferson tells 12 News he wants to study videography in college and when he was looking for scholarships, he didn’t find many that he qualified for.

Junior Mocorah Lewis had the same issue.

“We are the ones who are struggling out here and we need to stop that cycle,” Mocorah said. “The only way to stop the cycle is to go to college.”

That’s the reason the Papitto Organization created the Transform Rhode Island Scholarship. The scholarship is designed to be granted to any high school student in the state.

The Papitto Organization committed $1 million to invest in the idea of one prize winner.

“This scholarship is going to shift paradigms. You have students that are going to pursue dreams that maybe in the past, they thought were not possible,” Marcy Reyes, founder of the Financial Literacy Youth Initiative said.

In 2020, the Rhode Island Department of Education estimates that nearly 50% of the states Hispanic, Black and Native American students, respectively, went to college.

If Lewis or Jefferson won the money, they both tell 12 News they would invest in resources for the BIPOC community.

“Whether its dealing with youth mental health, counselors not cops, or a lot of the big problems, while also not overlooking the small little details as well,” Jefferson said.

With her college education, Lewis said she hopes to one day become a civil rights attorney, and eventually a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

The deadline to apply for the scholarship is Jan. 31. For more information on how to apply, click here.

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