On Friday, the Andrew Young HBCU Scholarship Program was announced to help students attending HBCUs to continue their education.

Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young along with civil rights leaders, state legislators, students, and alumni gathered on the steps of the Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center Friday to celebrate the creation of the new scholarship program.

According to WSBTV, the purpose of the scholarship program is to encourage future generations of students to become ambassadors and share the vision of Dr. King and Ambassador Young with the nation and the world.

Former Ambassador Andrew Young speaking at Atlanta University Center (Credit: Rebecca Grapevine).

Young, who graduated from Howard University in 1951 described having to work many jobs to put himself through college but was able to graduate debt-free. He reflected that he probably never spent more than $400 a semester for his education, but “now that won’t get you through the first two weeks,” he said.

Today, the U.S. Department of Education estimates the average cost of college in the United States is $35,550 per student per year, including books, supplies, and daily living expenses, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“The challenge today is how do you get an education and get a job to help pay you to pay back all of that money you borrowed that is going to leave you in debt,” Young asked.

“College should not destroy your credit rating and set you back before you start.”

– Former Mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young

Education publisher McGraw Hill Education provided seed money for the scholarship fund, putting in an initial $50,000 into the program. This will fund the education of 10 first-year students next fall who plan to attend an HBCU.

Scholarship recipients will also complete a civil rights curriculum designed by the organization Good of All, a group that promotes universal human rights. 

Matt Daniels, the founder of Good of All and the chair of the law and human rights division at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C., said the new $5,000 scholarships are designed to advance civil rights leaders’ message of non-violent social change. He hopes that it will help to produce a new generation of civil rights leaders needed to fight hate and violence in American society.   

“The only alternative we really have is to raise up a new generation that can go on offense for the good side – not defense against the bad,” said Daniels. “That’s why these young people are here.”  

Daniels said that scholarships are designed to help “plug the gap” in reference to students who often leave college between the first and second year due to a lack of relatively modest sums.

“For many students, HBCUs are usually the first ladder out of poverty.”

– Matt Daniels, Founder of Good of All

The scholarship program is expected to grow each year, as Sean Ryan, McGraw Hill’s president said that there is more financial support to come.

“When we have this kind of support from a major corporation … we know it’s a good investment,” Young said of McGraw Hill. “It’s a good investment for them. And it’s certainly a good investment for us.”