Black Business Resource Group seeks to aid families
Unlike President Obama and Congress and their sequester, Durham's Byron Baldwin and his team of philanthropists actually are giving away money.
Of course, Baldwin and the rest of the Research Triangle Park Black Business Resource Group aren't dealing with anything close to $85 billion.
But the $4,000 in college scholarships that the BBRG plans to dispense in the coming weeks will help some families keep balance on their particular fiscal cliffs.
"A lot of people forget the little things that it takes to be a college student," Montrey DeLoatch said.
DeLoatch is an Orange High School graduate and a freshman studying business administration at Hampton University in Virginia, where he's not allowed to have a car on campus.
Which means it's a mighty long drive for any of his people back home in Rougemont to come up and run him to the supermarket.
"A lot of times you have to take cabs or chip in with gas with someone we know," DeLoatch said. "Little things like that add up."
That's why the BBRG is getting ready for another Drive 4 Education Golf Classic. It's how the group the past seven years has raised money for its scholarships.
This year's Drive 4 Education is on August 17 at Falls Village Golf Club in Durham, and you can register at drive4education.org. Every penny of the proceeds goes toward funding the scholarships, Baldwin said.
And if you don't play golf, then you still can make a tax-deductible donation, because it's not even about the golf, anyway. What we're talking about here is a lot of people each doing a little something and making a big difference.
The BBRG awarded two $250 scholarships when it launched the effort. Last year, the group handed out five $500 scholarships. The plan this time around is eight $500 scholarships.
“Each year we've gotten progressively better," Baldwin said.
High school seniors who could use some extra cash for college need to hustle over to drive4education.org and go after one of those scholarships. Entries must be postmarked by April 12.
The BBRG is looking for black students, but it's not the so-called brainiacs who the group has in mind.
Baldwin said those students with grade-point averages hovering around 2.75 tend to miss out on scholarships in favor of those with 3.0 averages. The kid with the 2.75 may be just as smart as the 3.0 student, but there could be a situation at home that keeps the young person with the lower GPA from reaching the 3.0 benchmark.
The BBRG puts heavy emphasis on community service, because what good is it to be smart enough to solve the world's problems without having a heart that's soft enough to actually want to do something about those issues?
“Being a steward of your time, talent and treasure in different ways in order to help your community be that much greater, so that's why we focus on that,” Baldwin explained. “Just trying to reach out, man, and fill in some gaps for the community.”
Listen, now: Whoever is serious about some of this scholarship money had better get started with the process in a hurry, because the BBRG needs a good amount of information from the applicants. This isn't one of those things that you rush through, because the BBRG isn't giving out money just for the sake of giving it out. If members of the group can't find eight qualified applicants, then they'll divide the $4,000 among seven students or six, and on down the line until they can ensure that the money gets in the hands of the most-deserving individuals, like last year's grateful winners who came to the golf outing.
“You would never have thought that it was only $500,” Baldwin said. “You would have thought that it was $5- or $6,000.”
Granted, $500 doesn't sound like a lot.
“But that's two or three books that you don't have to pay for,” Baldwin said. “It's just the point of sometimes, man, we look for the big, humongous thing that we feel like will help a community to move forward, and, to me, it's never the big thing. It's the little-bitty small movements that go on in communities that help them to move forward.”
In other words, some of us can fund an entire $500 scholarship. Others of us could be among 100 other individuals who chip in $5 toward one of the scholarships.
That type of movement reminds Baldwin, 37, of his days growing up in Mississippi when the guys at the barbershop would go in together and raise a piece of money so a kid on the high school basketball team could have some sneakers.
“It's going back to that old-type deal of everybody in the community coming together and rallying around these individuals,” Baldwin said.
DeLoatch, 18, said he's seen firsthand how tough it is to make ends meet in college. He said the BBRG's generosity makes him want to give back like that someday.
There's no college course for that type of learning.
“It's placing that spirit into an individual at an early age,” Baldwin said.
Reach John McCann at email@example.com or 919-419-6601.