Celebrating 30 Years of Student Success With Thurgood Marshall College Fund

By Daryl Graham

Senior Vice President, Philanthropy, Strada Education Network


Celebrating student success is always a pleasure. But celebrating three decades of that success is a true honor.

My Strada Education NetworkSM colleague Venice Sherman and I had the opportunity to do just that at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund 30th Anniversary Awards Gala last week.

TMCF has spent 30 years helping Historically Black Colleges and Universities students succeed in education and career, and its impact has been impressive:

  • Ninety-seven percent of TMCF’s scholarship recipients graduate from college.
  • Two hundred first-generation students get an opportunity to be the first in their families to graduate from college.
  • Nearly 2,000 students each year take part in programming to prepare for workplace success.
  • One hundred fifty new and continuing teachers receive support to succeed in the classroom.
  • More than 200 students each year land executive track positions with the help of TMCF.

But there is no greater evidence of TMCF’s impact in helping students overcome the odds and realize their potential than the stories of students themselves. Stories like the one shared at the gala by Frederick Montez Boyd, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering at Alabama A&M University.

He overcame traumatic loss as a teenager to access and persist in college, now nearing graduation with two internships under his belt a post-graduation job offer in hand. And Mr. Boyd credits assistance from TMCF for helping to make that happen.

“Thank you, TMCF, for your continued support,” Mr. Boyd said in addressing the audience. “You took a chance on me and saved the life of someone you had just met. … Thank you, TMCF, for showing me that I don’t have to chase my dreams anymore — because I’m living them each and every day.”

Heather Alysia McNeil, another TMCF scholarship recipient, shared her story of persevering despite abuse and illness. Today she is at junior at the University of the District of Columbia, studying to be a neuropsychologist.

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough,” Ms. McNeil told the audience. “And thankfully, with the support of the extended family I have found at TMCF and UDC, I am confident I will get there.”

Partners in college and career success

I am proud of Strada Education’s longtime partnership with TMCF. Over the last decade, we’ve provided TMCF with more than $2.4 million to support programs focused on scholarships and leadership development. Among the Strada Education-supported TMCF Scholars are those in a program that encourages underrepresented students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

TMCF students join Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, on stage at last week’s gala.

I’m equally proud of Strada Education’s close partnership with TMCF’s president and CEO, Johnny Taylor, who will leave the organization later this year. Strada Education looks forward to continuing our partnership with TMCF under its new leader — Harry Williams, currently the president of Delaware State University — to advance Completion With a Purpose®.