Scholarship Opportunities Guidance – The Ron Brown Scholarship helps black students overcome financial barriers to college. Learn how to apply and discover other eligible scholarships.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the median household income for black households in the United States in 2021 was $48,297. In the same year, white households had a median household income of $77,999, more than 34% higher than black households.
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Racial disparities in household income stem from a variety of factors, but access to higher education is one of them.
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But fortunately, many scholarships, such as the Ron Brown Scholarship Program, are created specifically to help black students afford an education.
Below we will explain how the Ron Brown Scholarship works and how to apply. We will then list similar scholarships and give you tips on how to increase your chances of winning any scholarship you apply for.
Ronald H. Brown made many “units” for black Americans. He was the first black member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and the first black American to lead a major party when he was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee in 1993.
He also played an important role in helping Bill Clinton get elected president in 1992. Clinton appointed him secretary of commerce, becoming the first black American to hold the position.
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Unfortunately, Ron Brown was killed in a plane crash in 1996 while en route to Croatia for government work.
A number of academic scholarships and other programs have been established to honor the life and historical achievements of Ron Brown for black Americans. The best known is the Ron Brown Scholarship, which has been awarded to more than 500 students since its inception in 1996.
And it does an important job. Black graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student debt than white graduates, according to the Education Data Initiative.
This scholarship program was designed for black high school students with financial need who demonstrate high intellectual promise and an interest in public service.
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Each year, the program awards 45-50 4-year scholarships of $40,000 – $10,000 per school year – to help close this gap. To apply, you must fill out a 2-page application, write a few essays, and receive 2 letters of recommendation.
This scholarship is for black high school seniors with high academic achievement and outstanding leadership potential who demonstrate an interest in community service activities. It also considers financial needs.
The Ron Brown Scholarship application is available on its website. On page 1 of this application, you will provide some personal details such as your name, address, citizenship and date of birth.
The following page has 2 sections: 1 for the school counselor or academic advisor to fill out and 1 for the parent or guardian.
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You will then need to include a 2,500 word essay. The first asks you to choose an activity that you identified as important in question 1 and explain why it is important.
The second asks you to include an essay you wrote on any topic as part of your college application. If you haven’t written a college application essay, you can write one on a topic of your choice.
You need 2 letters of recommendation: the first from a teacher, high school counselor or your principal.
The other person can be anyone other than your parents who can attest to your academic achievements, character or leadership potential. For example, a teacher, coach or mentor could write this letter.
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Finally, you will need an official high school transcript with your current semester’s course load. You’ll also need a school profile – a page of information about your high school that includes things like:
All of these application materials must be submitted together. There is no online application – you can email or mail them to:
Applications must be submitted on January 9 of each year. If it is a Saturday or Sunday, your application must be submitted by the Monday after the date.
The Ron Brown Program staff evaluates applications from November through February. They will only notify the semi-finalists of their status in mid-February.
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They will then announce the finalists in March. Finalists are invited to an expenses-paid weekend selection process in Washington, D.C. During this process, the finalists are interviewed by the National Selection Committee.
Scholarships are announced by April 1st. Their names will then be published on the Ron Brown Scholarship website in May.
The Ron Brown Scholarship clearly helps its winners overcome financial obstacles in college.
But if you don’t win, don’t worry—many reputable organizations have established scholarship programs that award more than $10,000 in free money to each winner each year.
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The Gates Scholarship is designed to assist high-achieving minority students. To enter, you must meet the following criteria:
To participate, you must create a profile on the scholarship website and then collect information that proves you meet all of the above requirements.
This scholarship has 2 phases. The first stage is the questionnaire and lasts from July to September every year. Semi-finalists are announced in December and move on to Phase 2, which has a denser application.
The application deadline for stage 2 is in January. Finalists will be announced in March. Finalists go through interviews, and the scholarship committee selects the winners from among them.
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The Jackie Robinson Foundation awards scholarships of up to $30,000 over 4 years to outstanding minority students who serve their communities.
Applications open on September 1 each year and close in mid-January of the following year. Regional semifinalists are invited to virtual interviews in the spring. If you win, you will be notified by early summer.
McDonald’s partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in 2020 to help students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through the Black & Positively Golden Scholarship program.
Each year, the program awards 33 students a scholarship of $15,000 per academic year – $7,500 per semester.
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The Ron Brown Scholarship is highly competitive and open only to high school seniors. Don’t worry if you don’t qualify – there are plenty of other scholarships available.
The FAFSA is a government form that you can fill out each year to find out if you are eligible for various grants and other aid.
It’s free and doesn’t take that long, so there’s no reason not to complete it for each school year.
If you are already in college, you will not be eligible for the Ron Brown Scholarship. However, you can contact your financial aid office for assistance in finding additional scholarships for black or minority students.
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Many websites act as scholarship search engines. They allow you to search by keyword, then sort and filter to find scholarships that are right for you. This can make your scholarship search much faster.
If you don’t want to do it manually, you can use to get instant access to the largest scholarship fund in America. In addition, users can get a personal advisor to help you find more sources of free money to finance your education.
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One of your letters of recommendation should be written to a teacher, high school counselor, or principal.
The other can be from anyone who knows you well, other than your parents, and can attest to your academic achievements, character or leadership potential. This could be another teacher, your coach, a supervisor at work or a mentor.
Your first essay should answer the question posed by the application. For 2022, the question is “Choose 1 activity that you identified as important in the [application] question and tell us why it is important.”
Your second essay should be an essay on any topic you plan to include in your college application. If none of your college applications require essays, it can be anything you want as long as it’s relevant.
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If you win a Ron Brown Scholarship, you can apply it to any 4-year college in the United States. There are no restrictions on majors or fields of study in these schools.
If you do not win the Ron Brown Scholarship but are in the top 2-3% of remaining applicants, the program may name you a Ron Brown Captain.
As a Ron Brown Captain, you get access to exclusive personal and professional development services shared only with Ron Brown Fellows.
Additionally, you can search for jobs and internship opportunities with Ron Brown program corporate partners on the Ron Brown Leaders Network.
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So, even if you don’t get the scholarship yourself, you still have great opportunities to develop your future career.
While many black students still face additional financial barriers to attending college, scholarships like the Ron Brown Program strive to break down these historic barriers and help black students get the education they deserve with less debt than before.
But don’t worry if you don’t win, there are many similar scholarships available. Check out our list of other niche scholarships for some places to look. And don’t forget to explore membership options for scholarship opportunities, financial aid and more.
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