Greater Steps Scholars, a Black-led scholarship fund organization, celebrated two milestones last week: its 40th anniversary and the largest donation the organization has received to date. The funds, $1 million, are from Wells Fargo Advisors financial professional John T. Richards and his wife, Ann Richards.
The seven-figure donation will provide funding for four-year scholarships to students in Greater Steps programs.
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In a statement last week, Richard said he is “greatly inspired” by words from Greater Steps Founder John Crawford: “He shared that potential is universal, opportunity is not. After hearing those words, I was moved,” Richard said in a statement.
Richard presented Crawford with the award at a Greater Steps’ anniversary gala.
Greater Steps provides scholarships for students, particularly those living in public housing. It began as the dream of Crawford, who worked as youth services director for the Charlotte Housing Authority, today known as INLIVIAN. (The fund was previously known as the Charlotte Housing Authority Scholarship Fund.)
“These kids are brilliant, and all they need is a chance,” said Diane Hill, who’s part of the Charlotte NC A&T alumni chapter. Hill accepted an award on behalf of North Carolina A&T in 2019. Of the universities Greater Steps awarded scholarships to, North Carolina A&T was the top choice.
Christopher Moxley, an alum of the Greater Steps program, was honored at last week’s event.
Moxley was involved with Greater Steps as a child and is now a full-time entrepreneur. Moxley owns a clothing store, 704 Shop, a popular clothing store that has collaborated with major sports teams. Before entrepreneurship, he spent 15 years working in financial planning after he said Crawford helped him “make connections” and network.
Moxley said Crawford’s mantra of giving back after finding success greatly impacted him. Moxley continues to stay involved with the organization by mentoring current students. He created his $1,000 scholarship for UNC Charlotte students who are “underprivileged,” particularly those who come out of the Greater Steps program.
“Students can expect to, first and foremost, build social capital,” Moxley said.
Social capital is the benefits that come from connections between people.
Crawford said he thinks Greater Strides Charlotte has proven to be a “worthy cause” and hopes it will be attractive to new businesses and employers coming into Charlotte.
“I hope that our alumni and kids who graduate in our alumni will be some of the prize people [employers] look for,” Crawford said. “I want to try to make sure that the fund will be prepared to take care of kids long after I’m gone.”