Paying it forward, is not a just a catch phrase, it is a way of life. The Pay It Forward Book Scholarship Fund was founded in 2012 by Wilberforce University alumnus Karim Jackson and David Hutcherson. The 2007 graduates of Wilberforce, the nation’s first historically black college, understand that their rich educational and personal experiences at the HBCU located outside of Dayton, Ohio, were a blessing: both received scholarships from Wilberforce.
Karim Jackson and David Hutcherson, who both earned degrees in business management, have watched the seeds that they planted in college bloom into meaningful careers. They started the Pay It Forward Book Scholarship Fund as a way to pay homage to the education they received. As students they both played basketball for the university and earned Presidential Academic Scholarships. The camaraderie gained at the small, private black college was a family atmosphere for Jackson, a Columbus, Ohio, native and Hutcherson from Chicago. That nurturing environment between peers, faculty and staff led to lifelong relationships. These experiences caused Jackson and Hutcherson to begin a scholarship fund, from the money out of their own pockets, to provide that experience to new students.
The Pay It Forward Book Scholarship benefits first generation freshman who are attending Wilberforce University. The unique scholarship, which helps students pay for books and essentials, will be given for the first time in Fall of 2012 to students with a 3.0 GPA or higher, who have successfully completed an essay, application and retained recommendations. Founders believe that students with the drive to succeed and hunger for learning will benefit from the financial aid provided by this scholarship. “We all know that money is such a large part of the college experience and we are hoping that by helping with books, we can help a student at the most critical part of their college career to be prepared,” Hutcherson says.
Jackson and Hutcherson encourage other Wilberforce University graduates and education supporters to donate to the Pay It Forward Book Scholarship Fund as a way of giving back to a generation of future leaders. “I know that scholarship money was a big factor to my success in college. Now that I am in the position to lend a hand, I know it is my duty to do so. It is all about the action of giving back,” says Jackson. “We have all talked the talk, and now it is time to walk the walk.”