Morehouse College received a $2 million gift from The Ray Charles Foundation to provide scholarships to outstanding business majors.

The foundation is dedicated to promoting excellence in academics and the arts and supporting charitable causes championed by the late, legendary Grammy-Award-winning musician Ray Charles.

“Morehouse College is committed to empowering leaders who are prepared to solve the greatest challenges facing the world today and tomorrow, a mission Ray Charles championed through his artistry, philanthropy, and advocacy,” said David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College.

“The Ray Charles Foundation is a longtime supporter of Morehouse and has carried on the tradition of excellence and service that was a hallmark of Ray Charles—a musical genius, a successful businessman, and cultural ambassador to the world. I would like to thank The Ray Charles Foundation for its contribution and applaud the foundation leaders whose work is being honored by this scholarship.”

The contribution expands the foundation’s legacy of support for Morehouse.

Since 1995, the nonprofit has donated more than $9.6 million to the College, including serving as a major investor in the construction of the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center, RAYPAC, in 2013.

RAYPAC is the creative home of the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Morehouse College “House of Funk” Marching Band.

Charles also gave generously to educational institutions to help students who could not afford higher education.

In February 2001, Morehouse presented Charles with a Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Entertainment Award at the annual “A Candle in the Dark” Gala and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in the May 2001 Commencement exercises.

The Ray Charles Foundation scholarship will continue Charles’ legacy of support for education and honor the work of Valerie Ervin and Robert C. Davidson Jr., two foundation leaders with an esteemed record of service as members of the Morehouse College Board of Trustees.

The donation will fund the Valerie Ervin Student Success Endowed Scholarship, named after The Ray Charles Foundation’s president, and the Robert C. Davidson Jr. Student Success Endowed Scholarship, named after the foundation’s chairman, a 1967 graduate of Morehouse and chairman emeritus of the Morehouse Board of Trustees.

The scholarships will be awarded through Morehouse’s Student Success Program, which the Board of Trustees launched in 2019 to help rising Morehouse Men thrive financially after graduation.

Debt-erasing Student Success Program scholarships allow Morehouse Men to pursue advanced degrees, start careers, and build wealth without being tethered to undergraduate student loan debt related to their Morehouse education.

Trustee Ervin worked with Ray Charles to build his foundation from its origins in 1986 into an international force for change that has invested more than $33 million in charitable causes.

Ervin oversees every aspect of the foundation and continues to expand its footprint as it contributes to causes that align with its mission to empower the youth by providing access to educational institutions and programs.

“Ray was a musical innovator who had a heart for underserved communities and human rights struggles worldwide,” Ervin said. “He had a quiet but passionate approach to philanthropy which underscored his approach to creativity and performance style. But it is that quiet force that has led The Ray Charles Foundation to be at the forefront of generous donations to various institutions across the United States.”

“Ray believed that access to quality education was a fundamental right that is paramount to curbing poverty. I am honored to share my name that will support the education of business majors who have a passion for community activism and operate in the spirit of excellence displayed by Ray Charles.”

The Ray Charles Foundation donated $2 million to Morehouse College for scholarships (Mike Steward/Associated Press)

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