Broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley is establishing new scholarships at his alma mater, the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
The $50,000 scholarship fund will assist in the recruitment of African-American students, with a preference for those who are the first in their family to attend college.
“My education at IU and SPEA continues to contribute so much to what I’ve accomplished in life,” Smiley said. “As a native Hoosier, I want to do all I can to make sure students from backgrounds like mine can enjoy the same opportunities I did.”
The new scholarships will allow the continuation of the Smiley Scholars program at IU. Established in 2008 with a broader focus, it was set to expire this year.
“We are grateful to Tavis for this generous gift and for all he does on the national stage to improve our nation and world,” said SPEA Executive Associate Dean Michael McGuire. “I am pleased to announce that SPEA will match the gift so that we can reach even more students.”
To be eligible for the scholarships, high school students must enroll in SPEA, fulfill all of the qualifications, have financial need, and demonstrate leadership skills in their schools and communities. Scholarship amounts will range from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on need.
“We are committed to preparing the next generation of leaders for the greater good,” McGuire said. “This new scholarship will help us bring to SPEA a collection of future leaders who are as diverse as possible.”
SPEA, in its newly drafted “SPEA 2020” strategic plan, set a goal of increasing scholarship funding for qualified students from underrepresented groups. “This is an important first step in the right direction,” McGuire said.
The renewal of Smiley Scholars is the most recent in a series of collaborations between Smiley and SPEA. Earlier this year, SPEA faculty and students contributed to Smiley’s most recent book, “The Covenant with Black America: Ten Years Later” (SmileyBooks).
Smiley has written 19 books in addition to his radio and television work. He hosts the late-night television talk show “Tavis Smiley” on PBS, as well as “The Tavis Smiley Show” for Public Radio International.