NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Equitable, a leading financial services organization and principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), today announced the 2021 Equitable ExcellenceSM Scholarship recipients. This year, the program recognizes 369 deserving students from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in academics, exemplary leadership skills and a commitment to improving their communities.
“The 2021 Equitable Excellence class is a remarkable and diverse group of young people who inspire us all with the impacts they are making in their communities and around the world,” said Nick Lane, President of Equitable. “Amid an exceptionally challenging year, these high school graduates have shown tremendous resiliency and dedication to helping improve the lives of others. We are proud to support them as they start their next chapter in higher education.”
Equitable Excellence is the flagship program of Equitable Foundation, the charitable-giving arm of Equitable, which for more than 30 years has contributed to the success and vitality of communities through social impact grants, partnerships and volunteer efforts.
Research indicates that some of the leading determinants for social mobility and financial success in life are access to college and career advancement. By supporting high school students in their pursuit of higher education, Equitable is furthering its mission to help people secure their financial well-being to pursue long and fulfilling lives. More than $1.8 million is being awarded by Equitable through the 2021 program, surpassing $30 million in total scholarships to more than 7,000 students since the program’s inception in 2003.
Reflecting on the work in which he was recognized, award winner Jahin Rahman of the Academy of American Studies in Queens Village, New York said, “I believe that this year was especially important in giving back to my community. During this time, I saw that underprivileged and marginalized people in my home country, Bangladesh, were struggling greatly. Through my organization’s educational programs and school in progress, we are changing the lives of former street-children with free quality education and developmental opportunities.”
“Receiving this scholarship greatly reduces the financial burden of affording college which will allow me to better focus on my studies in pursuit of my degree,” said award winner Collin Ladina, who attends North Gwinnett High School in Sugar Hill, Georgia. “This last year has been the hardest of all for many families in my community because the pandemic created added layers of hardship that no one was prepared for. It made me want to put Collin’s Care Kits in the hands of as many kids as possible to reassure them that there is always someone willing to help and spending time creatively makes the mind stronger.”
Added award winner, Carlee Reid, who attends the Academy of Information Technology & Engineering in Stamford, Connecticut, “A year which confronted racial justice and inequality head-on emphasized the vitality of the type of work I do. More people and establishments have obtained the book I illustrated, and my mother wrote, because the themes of racial justice and equality finally had homes in my community. The $25,000 scholarship allows me to have greater bandwidth to pursue work and community opportunities. I aim to maximize the professional and communal impact I can make with this wonderful opportunity.”
Congratulations to this year’s $25,000 scholarship recipients:
Ceyda Alabacak – Chapel Hill, N.C.
East Chapel Hill High School
Ceyda founded WeLead, an initiative to connect K-12 girls from all over the world who are passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) and social entrepreneurship. The initiative exposes girls and non-binary individuals to STEM opportunities and helps them discover their STEM potential through workshops and mentorship programs.
Mara Bravo-Santos – San Pablo, Calif.
El Cerrito High School
Recognizing an opportunity to empower more of her high school classmates to pursue higher education, Mara started a club called Change Maker to encourage, inform and provide resources to students. As a result of the initiative, teachers and school administrators saw an increased representation of underrepresented students in advanced classes, and local community centers noted an increase in participation in tutoring programs by underserved youth.
Salvador Gómez-Colón – San Juan, Puerto Rico
When Salvador’s Condado neighborhood was left without power for more than a year following Hurricane Maria, he launched a generosity campaign to help raise money for solar lamps, hand-operated washing machines and other supplies for his neighbors in need. Since 2017, Light and Hope for Puerto Rico has raised more than $178,000 and distributed over 6,400 lamps and 1,500 washers to 4,100 underserved households impacted by natural disasters.
Jasmyn Jordan – Normal, Ill.
Normal Community West High School
After noticing the achievement disparities and participation gaps among black students at her high school, Jasmyn organized the first Black Student Union designed to promote student involvement, academic excellence, leadership, positivity, service and unity among all races of the student body. By encouraging Black students to get involved in their community, Jasmyn was able to help increase participation of students in donation drives, rallies, local events and Black history social media campaigns.
Collin Ladina – Sugar Hill, Ga.
North Gwinnett High School
Collin created Collin’s Care Kits to provide activity kits for children in families financially affected by COVID-19. To create the care kits, Collin found donors to supply backpacks and raised money and matched donations with earnings from his own part-time job for coloring books, crayons, puzzles and other items. Partnering with a local Co-op, he distributed 100 kits to children from families most devastated in his community.
Alice Le Roux – Ormond Beach, Fla.
Spruce Creek High School
In 2015, Alice started an environmentally conscious service club focused on donating to people in need. Through Give to Live, she collects and cleans unclaimed lost-and-found items to donate to county schools and organizes major donation drives for school supplies, holiday toys and blankets for the homeless in her area. Since Alice started the effort in 2015, she has helped more than 5,500 people in her community and prevented 47 truckloads of goods from reaching landfills prematurely.
Shefali Prakash – Phoenix, Ariz.
Shefali works with nonprofit SEWA International to distribute menstrual products to girls in India who lack access to proper hygiene and sanitation. She was the National Youth Lead for the organization’s Menstrual Hygiene Project and through her fundraising and awareness efforts, has helped raise more than $40,000 for various chapters to provide menstrual products and resources to over 3,000 young women.
Jahin Rahman – Queens Village, N.Y.
Academy of American Studies
Molded by a violent experience as a child, Jahin founded Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh (EYDB) to provide free education and development opportunities to at-risk children living on the streets of Bangladesh. Jahin leads more than 300 volunteers from the U.S. and seven other countries to raise money, oversee construction projects, provide sanitation, drug rehabilitation and childcare services and manage a variety of programs aimed at increasing literacy and education in the region.
Carlee Reid – Stamford, Conn.
Academy of Information Technology & Engineering
Carlee is a children’s book author and public speaker who promotes the ideals of internal and external love and appreciation. She published her first book, “I Love My Kinky Hair,” in collaboration with her mother in 2016, followed by “Oscar Wears Pink Clothes” in 2020, and regularly speaks at events to promote the importance of acceptance and love for who you are.
Meagan Warren – Bexley, Ohio
Bexley High School
When Meagan was just 11 years old, she founded Books For Bedtime, a nonprofit organization with the goal of ensuring every child has books at home. With the help of hundreds of volunteers located across two chapters in Ohio and New Jersey, Meagan’s organization has donated over 125,000 books to inspire countless children to develop a love for reading and learning.
To see the full list of Equitable Excellence Scholarship recipients, click here.
Equitable, a principal franchise of Equitable Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EQH), has been one of America’s leading financial services providers since 1859. With the mission to help clients secure their financial well-being, Equitable provides advice, protection and retirement strategies to individuals, families and small businesses. Equitable has more than 8,000 employees and Equitable Advisors financial professionals and serves 2.8 million clients across the country. Please visit equitable.com for more information. “Equitable” refers exclusively to Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (NY, NY).