Unique Scholarship Program Supports African-American and Hispanic Students Challenged by Hepatitis C

SAN FRANCISCO and NEW YORK -- The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund (TMSF) and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) announced today the launch of the second year of the New Horizons Scholars Program which will provide college scholarships to Hispanic and African-American students entering college in 2004 who have hepatitis C or are dependents of a person with the disease. The New Horizons Scholars Program is funded by The Roche Foundation.

These scholarships will help support the educational imperatives of African-American and Hispanic students in this country. According to a recent report by American Council on Education's Office of Minorities in Higher Education, college participation rates for African-American high-school graduates, ages 18-24 was at 39.4 percent in 2000 while the college participation rate for Latinos reached 36.5 percent in 2000.

"The New Horizons Scholars Program is a unique partnership that was established last year, and aims to create additional financial resources to cover the costs of higher education for Hispanic and African-American students impacted by hepatitis C," said Nicole Lee-Haley, major gift officer for TMSF. "We're very excited to continue this program with our partners and hope to positively impact the lives of these students through this important scholarship program."

The New Horizons Scholars Program will provide up to 50 scholarships to students planning to enroll for the first time in a four-year college during the fall of 2004. Scholarships will be awarded to students of Hispanic or African-American heritage who are infected or are dependents of someone infected with hepatitis C. Students will be eligible for $2,500 per year for four years, and must maintain the program's academic standard of 2.5 G.P.A. Scholarship winners will be notified in the late spring of 2004. Applications are available at www.hsf.net or www.thurgoodmarshallfund.org or by calling toll-free (866) 346-7496. Applications must be postmarked no later than Feb. 20, 2004

"Supporting the higher education of Hispanics and African Americans is a critical investment in America's future," said Mario De Anda, HSF director of scholarship programs. "The New Horizons Scholars Program is a strong partnership with the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to help provide educational opportunities to our communities and make a difference in the lives of our students."

Hepatitis C virus, a bloodborne disease of the liver, is the leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the number one reason for liver transplants in the U.S. Hepatitis C is transmitted through body fluids, primarily blood or blood products, and by sharing needles. Unfortunately, most people infected with hepatitis C are unaware of it because it may take years for symptoms to develop. Approximately 2.7 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C with an estimated 30,000 new infections yearly.

Hepatitis C disproportionately affects the African-American and Hispanic community. In the United States, 3.2 percent of African Americans are infected with hepatitis C, as compared with 2.1 percent of Hispanics and 1.5 percent of Caucasians.

Source: Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund; Hispanic Scholarship Fund

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