New Scholarship Program at Yale to Offer Financial Aid to New Students Who Attend HBCUs

Yale University has created a new scholarship program to support New Haven public school students who choose to attend historically Black colleges and universities. Initially, the Yale University Pennington Fellowship will be available to New Haven public school students who are accepted to Hampton University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, and Spelman College. Yale will add to the number of eligible institutions as more partnerships are established.

The new scholarship will bear the name of Reverend James W. C. Pennington, the first Black student to attend Yale. Born enslaved on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, he lived for 24 years as a fugitive before securing his freedom. Pennington was prevented from formally enrolling at Yale because of his skin color, but he audited classes at Yale Divinity School before continuing a noteworthy career as a minister, antislavery organizer, scholar, and speaker.

The Yale and Slavery Working Group revealed details of an effort by individuals within the Yale and New Haven communities who thwarted a proposal in 1831 to establish what could have been America’s first institution of higher learning for Black students. The new Pennington Fellowship is part of the reckoning process.

“This scholarship addresses, in part, historical disparities in educational opportunities for Black citizens,” Yale President Peter Salovey said in an announcement to the Yale community. “It will be funded by Yale and administered by the New Haven Promise program, which the university co-founded in 2010 to put the dream of a college education within reach for young people in our home city who otherwise could not afford it.”

The Pennington Fellowship program will support 10 to 12 students in each college-bound cohort for four years, with each student receiving up to $20,000 toward tuition and fees per year. When fully implemented, 40 to 50 students will receive Pennington scholarships at any given time. Applicants for the scholarships must be seniors at a New Haven public high school, submit an essay, provide a letter of recommendation, and have participated in at least 40 hours of community service.

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