Seventeen-year-old Jeffrey Warren was determined to secure money for college. His father told him to apply for every applicant scholarship and he applied to 27, winning two $2,000 awards and another $500 award. But when his school, Martin Luther King High School, announced he’d won a $1,000 award from the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club, confusion ensued.
They were kind of surprised,” he said of the club members to the Press Enterprise. “They announced it was for an African American.”
Jeffrey, who graduated on June 6, is white. Jeffrey says the application only said that African Americans were encouraged to apply. The cover letter for high school counselors that students didn’t see designated the scholarship as for African American students only.
According to legal experts at the Pacific Legal Foundation, organizations using private money can give scholarships to whoever they want depending on a specific criterion that they choose. African Americans and other minorities still lag behind in college attendance rates. As costs of college continue to rise, minority scholarships are needed now more than ever.
After a bit of consideration, Jeffrey and his father decided to return the scholarship to the club that evening. Although the club members had mixed opinions, they accepted the award back and awarded it to an African American girl at the school.
Next year they say, they will change the language on the application as to who is eligible to apply. As for Jeffrey, he’s going to attend San Diego State University next year and double major in English and business.
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