The Ron Brown Scholar Program (RBSP) honors the legacy of Ronald H. Brown through a selective scholarship program that advances higher education for community-minded and intellectually gifted African Americans. RBSP competitively awards Ron Brown Scholars four-year $40,000 scholarships to the most talented and economically-challenged high school seniors who demonstrate a keen interest in public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship and global citizenship – the four pillars of the late Ronald H. Brown’s mission to uplift people of all races, cultures and ethnicities – especially our disadvantaged youth.

The Challenge

Recent data on graduation rates from the U.S. Department of Education shows that at the nation’s largest universities that participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I, the black student graduation rate in 2013 (for all students, not just athletes) was 44 percent.

The graduation rate is defined as all students entering a particular institution who graduate from that same institution with six years. For Whites the graduation rate is 22 points higher at 66 percent. This roughly 20-percentage-point racial gap in college graduation rates has persisted for more than the past two decades. (Footnote - Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, October 25, 2013)

Black students in higher education face many more transitional and academic preparedness challenges that their white counterparts. We believe that given the right amount of support and opportunity, blacks can succeed at a higher rate. Financial assistance is crucial to but is only one aspect of the comprehensive mission of the Ron Brown Scholar Program. Our goal is to provide a second family and to be an empowerment and networking vehicle for each and every Ron Brown Scholar. Our efforts are aimed at keeping this group of intellectually talented, community-minded future leaders connected through their inherent inclinations to give back.

The Solution

Often it takes more than scholarships to help African American students successfully complete their college education and stand out in their chosen careers and professions.

In multiple ways, the RBSP supports Scholars during often tough times confronting academic rigor and social challenges in post-secondary education. Money helps, but our continued interaction with the Scholars ranges from helpful to critical.

Throughout their college experiences and continuing in the years which follow, Ron Brown Scholars benefit from a safety net of high-touch mentoring and guidance from committed program staff and an extensive network of volunteers, friends and sponsors who uncover the Scholar’s academic and professional potential, advance their careers and prepare them for professional and community leadership roles. RBSP’s combination of financial support, customized attention, networking with past and present Scholars and career advisory (and sometimes placement) services results in a consistent 99% college graduation rate.

  • Safety Net: RBSP serves as an extended family and a connected network where no one falls through
  • Personalized Approach: RBSP’s high-touch and highly effective approach to mentoring, guidance and nurturing ensures every Scholar receives the attention he/she needs to succeed
  • Building Capacity for Success: RBSP helps Scholars develop an understanding of college affordability and financial literacy that serves them beyond college 
  • Professional introductions: RBSP is frequently able to connect undergraduates with ideal internships

The Return on Investment

Since the Program’s inception in 1996, RBSP has produced unique patterns of career success and accomplishments for hundreds of African American youth who are now leaders, creators and transformers in their chosen careers and professions and remain dedicated to impacting the lives of others.

  • 368 scholarships awarded
  • 99% graduation rate
  • 58% of Ron Brown Scholars attend Ivy League universities
  • 2 Ron Brown Scholars were selected to be the First Marshals to their Harvard graduating class
  • 1 Ron Brown Scholar was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar
  • 4 Ron Brown Scholars were Rhodes Scholarship finalists
  • 27 Ron Brown Scholars earned PhD’s
  • 1 Ron Brown scholar clerked for the Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens
  • 51% of Ron Brown Scholars are pursuing graduate degrees
  • 100% of Ron Brown Scholars are actively involved in community service activities