NAACP-LDF:  New $30,000 Racial Justice Scholarship for Law Students and Revamped Scholarship for Undergraduates

Applications are being accepted for a new, prestigious, competitive law school scholarship, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (“LDF”) announced today. LDF revamped its Earl Warren Scholarship to target law students pursuing a career in racial justice and civil rights and increased the three-year scholarship amount from $9,000 to $30,000.  LDF also announced changes to its four year, $8,000 undergraduate scholarship, making community college students who are transferring to accredited four year institutions eligible for the award and prioritizing promising students who need financial help to complete their degrees.

Incoming law students with a demonstrated commitment to racial justice and civil rights have until June 30 to apply for this year’s revamped Earl Warren Scholarship. Only five law students will be selected to receive this prestigious award. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a U.S. citizen, college graduate or enrolled in their final year of college, possess a record of academic achievement, and have a demonstrated and ongoing commitment to racial justice. LDF’s Earl Warren awards are $10,000 per year for three years for a total of $30,000.

The enhancements to LDF’s 50 year old scholarship programs for law students and undergraduates are part of the organization’s 75th anniversary focus on adapting and updating the ways it seeks to achieve its mission in the current environment.  LDF President and Director-Council Sherrilyn Ifill requested a thorough review of LDF’s Earl Warren and Herbert Lehman scholarship programs, which was conducted by a task force of outside experts and LDF staff.

 “LDF’s Earl Warren and Herbert Lehman scholarship programs are a treasured part of our transformative mission to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice,” Ifill said. “With the current wave of police killings of unarmed African Americans, the deliberate effort to disenfranchise minority voters, and the discriminatory practices that cripple the chances for quality education for those most in need, today’s challenges demand that we use every resource – particularly human resource – to turn the tide.” 

LDF Board member Laurie Robinson Haden, who is Senior Vice President & Assistant General Counsel at CBS Corporation, said, “The changes to LDF’s scholarships for law school students will mean the nation’s most talented racial justice advocates and lawyers will be nurtured by LDF from the very beginning of their legal educations.” Ms. Robinson Haden succeeds George Wallerstein, a longtime chair of LDF’s Scholarship Committee and Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of Washington. Mr. Wallerstein recently announced a $2 million gift in support of LDF. 

In addition to financial assistance, Earl Warren scholars are given two unique opportunities: (1) an LDF internship, externship, or guided research project—competitive positions that are sought out by dozens of students every year, and (2) an invitation to LDF’s Civil Rights Training Institute, an invitation-only annual civil rights conference that brings together civil rights advocates, scholars, and attorneys to discuss strategies and to network.

Incoming and current undergraduates submitted their applications for the revamped Herbert Lehman scholarship this year before the May 1st deadline.  The selected scholars will be announced this summer. Applications for 2016 scholarships will be accepted starting in November of 2015. To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a U.S. citizen, graduating high school senior; first year student in an accredited four year college; or a student transferring to an accredited four year college. In addition, students are required to show financial need, a record of academic achievement, and a demonstrated commitment to public service. Herbert Lehman awards are $2,000 per year for four years totaling $8,000 and offered to approximately twenty-five qualified students a year.

LDF’s undergraduate scholarship program (Lehman) began in 1964 with the financial assistance of Helen and Peter Buttenwieser and the law school scholarship (Warren) began in 1971.  Past scholars include such leaders and luminaries as Charlayne Hunter-Gault (journalist), Marion Wright Edelman (Founder and President, Children’s Defense Fund), James Clyburn (U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 6th Congressional district), Sheila Jackson Lee (U.S. Representative for Texas’s 18th Congressional district), and the Honorable David Coar (United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois).

LDF’s Scholarship Review Task Force included Gizman Abbas (DI Development), Joon Bang (LDF Program and Operations Manager), Daronna Jones (District of Columbia College Access Program), Kevin Keenan (LDF COO & General Counsel), Rashid Shabbaz (Open Society Foundation and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement), and Rashida Welbeck (MDRC).

More information, including applications, can be found at: www.naacpldf.org/scholarships

The LDF Scholarship Programs are made possible by the generous contributions of LDF’s supporters.  To make a donation, please visit www.naacpldf.org/scholarships 

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