More than a dozen incoming college freshmen received a grand total of $157,000 in scholarships awarded to them by 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile.
The organization, founded in 1999, is “designed to create a pool of resourceful leaders who are committed to the formation and implementation of programs that work to enhance the areas of mentoring, education, health and wellness and economic development, according to the website for the nonprofit.
On Sunday, July 18, a total of 15 young men and women were awarded scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $40,000, and are set to attend colleges across the state of Alabama, including Coastal College and Alabama A&M University, among others.
The scholarships are provided by the 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile through partnerships with banks, universities and businesses.
Caleb Richardson told WALA-TV FOX 10 he had no idea how much money he was going to receive during the award ceremony before he was awarded tens of thousands of dollars.
“I walked in here with my expectations set pretty low, and I was just blown away. Honestly, it just made my entire life,” he said.
The history of the 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile dates back to 1963, when a group of Black men met in New York City and envisioned a future based on providing strong foundations for young Black Americans. Then, in 1997, the first Alabama chapter of the organization formed when educators, judges, doctors, lawyers, politicians, administrators, engineers and other professionals came together.
Between 2008 and 2019, the net price at a public four-year institution, including tuition, room and board and books, has risen by 24 percent. The rising cost of a college education has had an even more significant impact on Black households. In Alabama in 2017, the net price of attendance at a public four-year university accounted for 54 percent of median household income, compared to 30 percent for the average white household.
The Brookings Institute found in 2016 that Black college graduates owed $7,400 more on average than their white peers, or $23,400 versus $16,000. Those values grow even more disparate in the years following graduation as a result of interest accrual and graduate school borrowing, and by four years after graduation, Black graduates typically hold $53,000 in debt while whites owe half as much.
“The racial wealth gap is both the biggest and has grown the fastest among those with a college education,” Jason Houle, assistant professor of sociology at Dartmouth College, told CNBC in 2019. ”[S]tudent loan debt [is] potentially one thing that explains why that’s happened.”