State College, PA, June 19, 2024 — Centre Foundation is excited to announce the launch of the 1865 Freedom Legacy Scholarship, a transformative initiative designed for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students in the State College and Bellefonte area.

With an initial $10,000 endowment, this scholarship recognizes the community service and academic excellence of racially underrepresented and indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education.

Kerry Tolton, Development and Stewardship Director at Centre Foundation, expressed gratitude for the scholarship fund, stating, “We are honored to be trusted with this scholarship fund, and we will work to steward gifts to the Fund so that it is available to deserving students forever.”

Commemorating Juneteenth 

The scholarship fund was officially unveiled during the 5th Juneteenth Commemoration for the State College community, a fitting occasion to launch the fund. Juneteenth is recognized as a time to reflect on the past, address current BIPOC issues, celebrate cultural diversity, and inspire future generations to pursue equality and justice. 

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced in Texas, marking the official end of slavery in the United States. 

The State College Juneteenth celebration, founded in 2020 by the State College NAACP and hosted in partnership with the State College Borough, the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State, and the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, has become a pivotal event for promoting cultural awareness and inclusion. 

The Scholarship Visionaries 

The 2024 Juneteenth Planning Committee—Leslie Laing, Sita Frederick, and Chiluvya Zulu—are the masterminds behind this scholarship.  

Their vision for the fund is to confront the systemic inequities that BIPOC students encounter and offer them the support needed to achieve greatness. “By supporting the next generation of scholars, we are building a legacy that creates cultural awareness, cultivates civic engagement, and promotes inclusion at the high school level.” 

Why This Matters

Many BIPOC students have historically faced numerous hurdles in their educational journey due to systemic inequities, including limited access to quality schools. This scholarship is a direct response to those challenges, designed to break down barriers and open up opportunities for these students to thrive in their academic and professional lives. By facilitating access to education, scholarships like this one can play a crucial role in attracting and retaining BIPOC students, ultimately fostering a student body that better reflects the diversity of society and contributing to a more equitable future.

Call to Action for Donors

Chiluvya Zulu, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at State College Borough and one of the scholarship’s founding visionaries, emphasized the importance of education as a tool for social change. “Contributing to this scholarship is an investment in our community’s future,” said Zulu. “It reflects our commitment to overcoming systemic inequities and ensuring that every student has the opportunity to succeed.”

Leslie Laing, Director of Adult Learner Programs & Services at Penn State University and one of the scholarship’s founders, added, “You are all invited to make a contribution! Every donation counts to reduce the financial barriers that can prohibit individuals from attending their institution of choice.”

The fund will be administered through Centre Foundation. Donations can be made through the Centre Foundation’s website at www.centre-foundation.org/funds/1865-freedom-legacy-scholarship-fund/. For donor-related questions, contact Kerry Tolton at (814) 237-6229 or kerry@centre-foundation.org.

Who Can Apply and How

This scholarship is open to BIPOC students enrolled or planning to enroll at any accredited postsecondary institution in the U.S.

Most high school scholarships accept applications in early spring, with awards announced at the end of the school year. For more details about the scholarship and how to apply, contact Krista Williams at (814) 237-6229 or krista@centre-foundation.org. Learn more about our scholarship programs at centre-foundation.org/granting-programs/scholarships