Need Money For College? Ask A Music Star.

Apr 28, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker
This past Wednesday, Beyoncé launched the Formation Scholars program for “bold, creative” women pursuing creative arts, music, literature, and African-American studies at the Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design, or Spelman College. Why?  To “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident.”  Sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  In fact, several other musical celebrities also want to send you to college.  Let’s take a closer look at who they are, their foundations, and their goals.    1. Jay Z Beyoncé’s husband of over nine years also has a scholarship fund, which he co-founded with his mother. The Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund gives one-year scholarships of $1,500-$2,000 to students with a minimum GPA of 2.0. The fund focuses on helping motivated, underserved students achieve their dreams of a college education.  In 2014-2015, 79 percent of recipients came from single parent households.  64 percent were first-generation college students, and 77 percent of the scholars came from households whose annual incomes were less than $40,000.    2. Rihanna This 8-time Grammy winner launched a scholarship program back in 2016 through her philanthropic charity, The Clara Lionel Foundation.  The Foundation awards need-based scholarships to deserving students from Barbados, her home, Cuba, Haiti, Guyana, Jamaica, and the U.S.  Students must be in a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited four-year school in the US.   She started the foundation in honor of her grandparents with a focus on health, education, the arts, and culture.    3. John Lennon Established in 1997 by his wife, Yoko Ono, in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, the annual John Lennon Scholarship gives three annual scholarships totaling $20,000 to the university students who submit the best original songs. Since its inception, the BMI Foundation has awarded over $360,000 to emerging musicians.  Award winners include Bora Yoon, composer, performer, and TED Fellow; Lunda DeFuria, singer, songwriter and off-Broadway actress; recording artist Svoy; and Andrew Horowitz, performer, composer and producer for John Legend.    4. Janet Jackson Of the many charities founded by Janet Jackson, the Janet Jackson/Rhythm Scholarship—UNCF, or United Negro College Fund, offers students studying communications, Fine Arts, Mass Media, Journalism, Visual Arts, English, Education, Photography, Music Video, and TV Production the opportunity to apply for scholarship funding.  Applicants must attend a UNCF school, be US citizens, nationals, or permanent residents, have a minimum 2.5 GPA, and belong to a Black racial group.    5. Alicia Keys Alicia Keys gives four $5,000 scholarships annually to “standout” students who need financial assistance to realize their dreams of a college education.  Students must be from Jacksonville, New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York City’s Harlem.  She offers funding through the Open Doors Scholarship Program, part of Jacksonville’s non-profit Frum Tha Ground Up.      6. Will.i.am Black Eyed Peas musician, rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, will.i.am the i.am.angel Foundation in 2009 to offer college scholarships to needy students.  To give back. To transform lives through “education, inspiration, and opportunity.”  The goal?  “We need to rebuild America for those who dream big and have a sense of community.  That’s what we’re trying to do.”  If you’re looking for scholarship money, look in all the likely places—and then expand your horizons.  Superstar celebrities often want to give back to their communities—and to help students just like you.              
Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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