Twitter went crazy this week when LeBron James announced he was opening a school for at-risk youth in his native Ohio.
But James is just one of numerous celebrities using their platform to advocate for education. Other high-profile athletes and celebs have all lent their names (and $$$) to programs and scholarships for young people. In addition to schools founded by Shakira, Magic Johnson, Will Smith, Pitbull and Sean “Diddy” Combs, other celebs have also created their own scholarships.
Here are six more of these celeb-backed scholarships/programs for students -- most of which go a step further by focusing on students of color or those from marginalized backgrounds:
Derrick Rose — Rose Scholars
On the heels of James’ Wednesday announcement, fellow NBA star Derrick Rose announced his own effort to help students — a $400,000 scholarship for high school leaders to attend college.
Who can apply? The Rose Scholars program is open to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors who are “civically minded and have an instinct to lead.”
Amount: Rose is awarding one grand prize winner up to $200,000, paid out over four years, and two smaller winners for up to $20,000 each.
Deadline: September 30, 2018
Nicki Minaj — #StudentOfTheGame College Fund
Rapper Nicki Minaj hasn’t quite started a formal scholarship, but just she just followed through on a huge promise she made to students in May.
Modernizing the application process, Minaj tweeted to her followers in May that she’d help pay off their student debt in exchange for proof that they were earning A’s. She helped over 30 students’ pay their college costs during the surprise Twitter session.
She then shared a list of the debts she had already helped pay off on Instagram.
After that, she turned the Twitter trend into a scholarship initiative, announcing her “Student of the Game” college fund program. In order to enter, college students posted the amount requested on social media using the #StudentOfTheGame hashtag.
On June 29, she announced the first group of winners for #SOTG by posting the 37 recipients’ Twitter handles on her website.
The winners will have their college expenses including tuition, books, and living expenses paid for. According to the contest terms, the amount given can vary.
Beyonce — HBCU Scholarship Program
Queen Bey herself has been investing in education for years. And she can’t resist a good theme.
Following her college band-inspired Coachella performance in April, she announced the Homecoming Scholars Award program, a scholarship for students that attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This year, the program expanded to add eight more schools from its first year in 2016 when it was the Formation Scholars Award (catch the pattern here?).
In the 2018-2019 academic year, one student from Xavier University, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University, Bethune-Cookman University, Texas Southern University, Fisk University, Grambling State University and Morehouse College each received a $25,000 education grant.
The deadline for this year has passed, and the recipients were announced in late July.
Jay Z — The Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund
Of course this power couple both contribute to education. Shawn Carter a.k.a. Jay Z funds his own program with the mission of helping students who have faced socio-economic setbacks. His website says that the program has helped students that have experienced teen pregnancy, incarceration, interrupted schooling, poverty and homelessness all attend college.
Who can apply? High school seniors, students with GEDs, undergraduate students, and students at vocational/trade schools.
Amount: $1,500-$2,500 for every student who qualifies. Scholars who reapply every year can receive financial support throughout their college career.
Deadline: Application opens in April
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos Scholarships for Dreamers
In January, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife announced that they would fund 1,000 college scholarships for DREAMers, undocumented immigrant students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
Bezos gave a $33 million donation to TheDream.US, a scholarship program for Dreamers. High school seniors and college freshmen could receive up to $29,000 to help defray their college costs. This year’s deadline was in March, and it’s unclear if the scholarship will be renewed.
Bezos himself stated that he was inspired by his own father’s journey as an immigrant from Cuba, and “continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him.”
Michael Jordan— Michael and Juanita Jordan Scholarship
Adding to the list of basketball stars furthering educational opportunities, legend Michael Jordan and his wife fund scholarships for students from Chicago to attend colleges that are part of the United Negro College Fund.
Who can apply? College juniors who will attend a UNCF member college or university (that includes HBCUs + more).
Deadline: December 2018
That’s not all -- Jordan also formed the Michael Jordan Education Club in the '80s as a way to motivate sixth graders from economically disadvantaged communities to succeed in academics, school attendance and service. The Jordan brand also gives out full-ride scholarships through the Jordan Brand Wings Scholars Program.
Jordan himself went back to school, even after becoming a millionaire, to get his degree.