The Los Angeles Rams partnered with the Fulfillment Fund to create the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship is funded by the Rams and is in its inaugural year. It will offer up to $20,000 to students for college. Students who are accepted to a four-year college or enrolled in an accredited baccalaureate degree-granting program will receive $5,000 per year for up to four years. Recipients that are accepted to and enrolled in an accredited community college will receive $2,000 per year for up to two years. Students may be eligible to receive additional financial support upon a successful transfer to a four-year college.
"We're really excited to create a pathway to help individuals further their education. We all want to make sure that nothing will prevent a student from being able to dream beyond their reality. It takes all of us to really create change and social justice is at the core of the Los Angeles Rams and it really is a social justice issue. It's about access and we're so grateful to be in the city of Los Angeles and make it beyond just football," said Johnathan Franklin, the Director of Social Justice and Football Development for the Rams.
Franklin said while the Rams are football-focused with the Super Bowl approaching, they also want to help the community.
"Although football is a priority with being in the Superbowl, it's the power of football being a vehicle that creates this change, that can raise awareness of what the social justice issues are and one of the things is education and equity. There's barriers that individuals face within our community and to be able to further education and put a student in a position to reach their dreams and close that gap, we're really excited to do those things," said Franklin.
The scholarship is in honor of Kenny Washington who broke the NFL's color barrier in 1946 when he signed with the Los Angeles Rams. He ended a 12 year ban on Black players in the NFL.
"It's really an incredible moment to really educate about the legacy of what Kenny was able to do, the barriers he was able to break and the leader he was to not just the Los Angeles Rams, the city but nationwide," said Franklin.
The Rams partnered with the Fulfillment Fund, Los Angeles' oldest and largest college access and college completion nonprofit, focused on helping first generation and low income students complete college. All scholarship recipients will be provided with advisement and support from Fulfillment Fund and will be selected for their embodiment of Kenny Washington’s core values: perseverance in the face of adversity, dedication to their goals and the Los Angeles community, fortitude through breaking barriers, and inspiring others around them to make a difference.
"We really want to make it so that every student can achieve their educational goals and career goals by having the right systems in place,'' said Joanne Reyes, the Chief Executive Officer of the Fulfillment Fund.
"These scholarships are really wonderful and inclusive because they are meant to help first generation and lower income students to really access and complete college. Education is still the most important protective factor and economic lever we have to uplift people out of poverty. Education really opens a lot of doors. It's important to be inclusive because a lot of students are at different academic achievement levels and there's also a lot of different responsibilities. Some students have to still earn for their families while some students are able to pursue a four-year degree right away," said Reyes.
Reyes said they are overjoyed to partner with the Rams on this mission.
"They started talking with Fulfillment Fund, with us, about what could this look like and what does this mean and could we launch a scholarship in Kenny's memory and then we started to think through what that really meant and how students could effectively complete college, not just with the financial support but also with the career and college advisement they would get from Fulfillment Fund as a scholarship recipient," said Reyes.
Reyes encourages all high school seniors within Los Angeles to apply for the program.
"We know that the zip code you're born in shouldn't dictate your future and that there's income inequality in pockets across the city and it's unfortunate that there's some neighborhoods that are better resourced than others but what we really try to do is level the playing field. What we hope to come out of it is that we graduate out sets of students who are achieving, who are succeeding and able to uplift their families, uplift their communities and for them to come back and give back," said Reyes.
The applicants must be enrolled in their senior year of high school with an expected school graduation date of June 2022 and have at least a 2.0 GPA. The applicants also have to complete the free application for Federal Student Aid or the California Dream Act Application, and agree to submit their Student Aid Report for verification.
Applicants who are among the first generation in their family to attend college, enrolled in Fulfillment Fund's programs, enrolled at Lincoln High School (Kenny Washington's alma mater), or reside in Inglewood, Watts, Compton, South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles or Downtown Los Angeles will be given priority consideration. You can click here for more information on the scholarship program.
For more information on the Fulfillment Fund, click here.
The application process closes on February 28.