A Scholarship: One Man's Effort to Fix the Wrongs of Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County in Central Virginia is known for locking a generation of black students out of education by closing down its public schools. That was back in the 1960’s. Now one man is trying to help fix that wrong by starting a scholarship and mentorship program, with $1,000 of his own money.
Taikein Cooper graduated from Prince Edward County High School in 2006. When he went to college he bought himself a set of all new books.
“And so I was starting my school year fresh,” he recalls. “Partly because I went to a high school and middle school (where) we always had old tattered books and I wanted to ensure that I got everything I needed.”
He overpaid and someone teasingly called him an "idiot freshman" for not buying used books. It’s those small mistakes he hopes he can help someone else with. As well as the big things.
“I think college is one of those places where an interesting thing is happening, it’s your first time really being on your own,” Cooper says. “I truly became a man on that campus.”
The money for books and the mentorship will go to a student heading to college for the first time this year - whether it’s community college, a university, or a trade school. Cooper says the recipient will have check ins, and if they’re consistent in communicating they’ll get access to more money. He has a $1,000 to work with.
“To provide a book voucher for an incoming college student, while also coming from that community and going to a rather large university I understood the need for mentorship,” says Cooper.
Cooper, who now runs the educational advocacy group Virginia Excels, would love it if lawmakers in Richmond did something bigger and bolder. His idea? Free college for every graduate of Prince Edward County High school
But for now he’s doing his part.