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Two Atlanta students – Ayan Robinson and Lauryn Williams – are among the recipients of a $600,000 scholarship fund from comedian and actor Kevin Hart, in partnership with KIPP and UNCF.

Hart launched the scholarship program with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to support 18 KIPP alumni in college. All 18 alumni are attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Following a $100,000 scholarship gift made in 2015 through UNCF to four students, Hart has expanded his partnership with KIPP Public Schools and UNCF in collaboration with his Help From The Hart Charity, providing funds for students from eight different cities who are attending 11 historically black colleges and universities.

Robinson, a graduate of KIPPAtlanta Collegiate, is currently attending Tuskegee University, and Williams, an alumna of KIPP STRIVE Academy, will begin her college career this fall at Xavier University.

UNCF is the largest provider of college scholarships for students of color in the U.S., awarding more than $100 million in college scholarships annually to deserving students. The 18 Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship recipients have been selected based on their academic and personal accomplishments and may receive substantive renewable awards based on need.

“The Help From The Hart Charity Scholarship will not only support students, but will also demonstrate support for HBCUs,” said UNCF CEO and President Michael L. Lomax. “Research shows that HBCUs matter, and that HBCU students are having a positive college experience, but they also have an unmet financial need. Together, Kevin and KIPP have made an investment that will have a significant impact. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”

“Education and knowledge are powerful,” said Hart. “I just wanted to do my part in providing opportunities for our future leaders, especially from my Philly hometown, and show support for HBCUs. This is just the beginning; trust me when I tell you there are a lot more kids who want to go to college who don’t have the money to make it happen.”

The students receiving scholarships are high school graduates who attended KIPP public charter schools in eight different communities: the Arkansas Delta, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. A recent survey of KIPP alumni across the country showed that the KIPP graduates who attend HBCUs reported a stronger sense of belonging, better mental health, and were more likely to have a mentor than those attending non-HBCUs.

“Nothing brings me greater joy than to see the hard work of these 18 KIPP students recognized by Kevin Hart and UNCF through this generous scholarship program,” said John Fisher, chair of the KIPP Foundation Board of Directors. “Michael Lomax has been a longtime KIPP supporter and friend and a tireless champion for young people. We are incredibly grateful to both UNCF and Kevin Hart for their partnership and support to help our students thrive in college and achieve their dreams.”

Hart’s gift to fund this new scholarship program puts him in line with many other renowned celebrities – like Lou Rawls, Ella Fitzgerald, Clifton Davis, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Anthony Anderson, Beyoncé, Chris Rock and others. “Giving back to build better futures is the name of the game, and we hope that others like Kevin will understand why educational investments are so important, especially now, and step up to help more deserving students,” said Lomax.

Lomax also added, “There are nearly 1,300 KIPPsters currently enrolled at HBCUs, and together, we are bringing resources and shining a spotlight on these students who are doing all they can to get a college education. This unique partnership will help UNCF continue to bridge the gap from high school success to college achievement and enables UNCF to help more students get to and through college.”

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