The NAACP offers two college scholarships annually, and last year no students from the Pittsburgh area applied for either of them.
That will likely change this year as the national scholarship opportunities are being administered by the local POISE Foundation
– the first public foundation in Pennsylvania organized and managed by African Americans.
The POISE Foundation’s mission, says Karris Jackson, its vice president of programs, "is to assist the Pittsburgh region’s black community in achieving self-sustaining practices, through strategic leadership, collective giving, grant making and advocacy." POISE manages 150 scholarship and grant funds currently.
The NAACP's Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship is available only to NAACP members, but its Hubertus W.V. Willems Scholarship is available to all male students.
"I find that a lot of students start the application but never complete it," Jackson says. "That’s usually because they did not give themselves enough time to gather all the necessary documents and/or to write a thoughtful essay."
Over the past few years, POISE has heard from an increasing number of students needing emergency funding to remain in school, she notes. "African American students often lack access to the networks that expose them to the vast number of available scholarships," she adds. "I also think that African American students have a higher degree of need and, as a result, depend more heavily on scholarship money to help cover the cost of tuition.
"Scholarships help to close the gap between financial aid and family responsibility," she concludes. The NAACP scholarships provide up to $3,000 each. "This is a great opportunity for students in the Pittsburgh region and we hope more will take advantage."
Applications are being accepted from now until March 17.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Karris Jackson, POISE Foundation