Founded in 2000 by Sid E. Taylor as a direct result of his attempt to provide jobs to inner city residents, the scholarship fund was set up to serve inner city students and provides scholarships based on need. Students are chosen based on their need for financial assistance, their desire to attend a higher education institution and the student’s ability to graduate and be accepted into a college or university of their choosing.
The students chosen for Real Life 101 scholarships are often the very students who do not fit into the usual scholarship criteria requiring students to have a certain GPA or select a particular major. Real Life 101 chose to focus on the “average” student with financial obstacles that can prevent them from attending college. Our first scholarship recipients were 10 students from Detroit’s Mackenzie High School in 2000. Each recipient was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and a laptop computer. The recipients are selected by the high school counseling staff. The Real Life 101 scholarship program became a permanent scholarship offered at Mackenzie High School from 2000 to June 2007 (the school closed in 2007).
The Real Life organization is designed to focus on the African American male. Here are some horrific statistics on life for African American males in America:
- They have a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison
- Only 52% graduate from high school in America
- African American males represent 50% of the prison population
- It takes an average of $22,600 per year to house each inmate and is funded by the taxpayer
- In New York and California the number is $44,500 per inmate each year
Our government takes the country’s third grade dropout rates and uses that information to determine how many prisons to build in the future. This is investing in INCARCERATION and not EDUCATION. We must invest on the front end (EDUCATION) and not on the back end (PRISON), where we receive no return on our investment as taxpayers and as a society.
The Real Life 101 program was expanded to 10 City of Detroit high schools in 2006. 10 scholarships were awarded per school, for a total of 100 scholarships. Each of the 100 students also received a laptop computer and was assigned a personal mentor. Each recipient received a five-year scholarship commitment in which to pursue and obtain a degree from a higher education institution in a field of their choice.
The Real Life 101 Scholarship Fund is in its 17th year of service providing mentors, scholarships and computers to at-risk inner city high school graduates. Additionally, we have more than 300 dedicated professionals who serve as certified mentors in the Mentor Program serving our scholarship students.
In June 2010 at our Annual Gala-Awards Ceremony we announced the launching of our National Plan with the goal of at least one inner city school in every state. That model provided 10 students with a five-year $1,000-per-year financial commitment, a laptop computer and a personal mentor from their local community. The Real Life organization is proud to announce that at the start of 2016 we now have at least one school in 45 states. Our new model awards more scholarship money to students than it ever has. We now provide 10 Category One Scholarship Recipients a five year $2,000-per-year financial commitment, a laptop computer and a personal mentor.
The Real Life organization and its State Managers take great pleasure to know we are now making a difference not just in Michigan where we started, but in 45 states and over 55 high schools.. Real Life 101 will continue its commitment to this endangered group and its investment in EDUCATION and not INCARCERATION.