YSU Foundation Seeks Funding for Social Justice Scholarship

YOUNGSTOWN – On Wednesday afternoon, Andrew Wingard, development officer for the Youngstown State University, took to the podium to discuss the university’s latest scholarship: the Social Justice and Inclusion Scholarship. 

YSU announced the creation of the scholarship on July 10. It is intended for Black students who are community leaders or involved in political or social activism. The YSU faculty worked with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to create the award. 

“Right now, higher education is still very important for our youth, and having scholarships and opportunities in the community is going to help students continue their education,” said YSU Foundation development officer Kate Johnson.

The full-ride scholarship will be given to one student per year. It will cover housing, supplies and other academic-related expenses. To receive the award, an applicant must be a current or incoming student, have a 3.0 GPA and work with a community, political or social group. Participants in groups like Sojourn to the Past, YWCA, NAACP and the Urban League are eligible.

Wingard met with the Rotary Club of Youngstown to discuss the scholarship during the service organization’s weekly meeting. 

“The meaning behind it is a little bit different,” Wingard said. “It was developed off of Mr. George Floyd’s situation, of course, so the title itself is different from many of our minority [scholarships].”

Andrew Wingard

The university has to raise $200,000 for the scholarship to become official. The foundation will match donations for a total of $400,000. Wingard said the university is actively promoting the scholarship to help raise funds. Once the dollar amount is reached, YSU will make the scholarship available.

“I believe a couple weeks ago, maybe around $2,000 had been raised,” Wingard said. “It’s still at its beginning stages. The committee is still planning a ton of fundraising opportunities, people are still giving online, so it’s going to be an ongoing process.”

Students might not receive the scholarship in consecutive years since it’s handed out on a year-by-year basis. Johnson said the university will determine the best recipient and factor the necessity among the candidates.

Johnson said a past recipient that does not receive the award the following year can contact the YSU Foundation to “bundle” eligible scholarships.

Samantha Turner, president of the Rotary Club of Youngstown, said the scholarship’s creation is “timely” given the Black Lives Matter movement.

Samantha Turner

“This is important,” Turner said. “This is something that should always be happening. It’s unfortunate that it’s happening at this time, but we utilize this catalyst, we utilize this momentum, to build something positive for the minority children in the Youngstown area.”

To make a donation toward the scholarship, go to YSUFoundation.com and click “Give Now.” Wingard said donors will not find the scholarship in the dropdown menu. Instead, put “Penguin Social Justice Scholarship” in the comment section when making a donation.

“We’d like [to raise funds] sooner than later,” Wingard said. “That way we could impact that student’s life now, but again, they have to fundraise for the money and we’ll be able to award it to a student.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.