Artist and performer Travis Scott announced Project HEAL, a multi-tier, long-term series of community-focused philanthropy and investment efforts.
Kicking the effort off, $1 million in pledged scholarships for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be available to give a leg up to students in need. With Scott’s support, the Waymon Webster Scholarship Fund will grant $10,000 scholarships to seniors who have reached academic excellence (averaging 3.5 or higher GPA) but who are facing the last-minute challenge of financial adversity in their second semester senior year – and risk not graduating. The scholarships will help bring 100 students over the finish line, diploma in hand. This is the second year that Scott has supported HBCUs and represents a tenfold increase.
Past recipients include students at Howard University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Grambling State University and Prairie View A&M University – Scott’s grandfather’s alma mater where he also served as an educator. The scholarship is named after Waymon Webster to honor his lifetime of dedication to academic excellence. Applications are now open online.
“My grandfather was an educator who made a difference in thousands of young lives throughout his life. He is a major influence on me and countless others, whose dreams he believed in, whose hopes he invested in, and whose futures he made big. It’s in his spirit that we are creating projects and programs that will look to the future of our communities and create hope and excellence in as many lives as possible” Scott said.
Jordan Webster, project manager at the Cactus Jack Foundation’s HBCU Program, Howard University student and sister to Travis Scott, said, “I know personally how deeply important my grandfather’s academic legacy at HBCUs is to Travis and to my entire family – my twin brother Josh also attends an HBCU, at Prairie View A&M University. Travis creates hope and makes a real difference to 100 of our HBCU peers who will be able to graduate without going into crushing debt. As a third generation HBCU student, I cannot be prouder to partner with Travis on the second year of this exceptional initiative.”
“When I announced that I planned to attend Morehouse College, a lot of people told me I was making the wrong decision and that I’d be putting myself in too much debt. Thanks to the Cactus Jack Foundation’s support, I am one step closer to accomplishing my dreams of being not only the first in my family to attend an HBCU but the first to graduate with a four-year degree,” shared Nasire Branch, a recipient of the first annual Waymon Webster Scholarship and current Morehouse College student.
The second pillar of HEAL addresses the country’s skyrocketing mental health crisis – and focuses much-needed resources to support services for young people in lower-income communities of color, many of whom have few available, accessible, affordable mental health options.
With seven figures in pledges to fund digital counseling and telephone hotlines, Scott will provide free programs with licensed professional counselors and social workers. Houston-based behavioral health expert, Dr. Janice Beal, will lead the effort with Scott’s support. Beal is the programing director of “Well Being in Color,” a peer mental health education program for students of color in addition to her private practice. Most recently, Dr. Beal developed mental health pipelines for the Houston Independent School District durin the COVID-19 pandemic. She serves as a member of the Mayor of Houston’s task force for special needs and advises United States Congress members on youth mental health issues.
Dr. Janice Beal stated, “Mental health has traditionally been a taboo subject. As life begins to return to normal, many young people are still suffering and need help to re-adjust after serious disruptions to their experiences at home, in school and within their community. With Travis Scott’s help, HEAL’s programs will help empower young people to overcome mental health issues and become the best they can be.
The third pillar, in conjunction with Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation, is a seven-figure expansion of the CACT.US Youth Design Center at TXRX Labs in Houston, a nonprofit maker-space for young artists, designers, tech innovators, including free studio space, workspace, tool spaces, job and apprenticeship training, youth education and events. HEAL will fund a new comprehensive creative design education program for the Center – existing where fashion, art, technology, and music intersect – through a strategic online partnership with a historically black college or university.
The fourth and final pillar is to address safety challenges for large-scale live events through funding the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Event Safety and a tech-driven device currently in development. This solution is a culmination of stakeholder inputs from key experts from the tech sector, government, emergency response, event management, health and public safety experts.
This will be the first time all these stakeholders will work together to most effectively address the safety challenges faced by future large-scale events, which will culminate in a comprehensive report of recommendations. HEAL will work towards advocating that this report serves as the new safety and security blueprint for all festivals and large-scale events.
“Travis Scott’s generosity will directly help Black youth and families in need. From providing academic scholarships to critical mental resources and inspiring educational programs, Travis Scott is standing up for the Black community by providing the support needed to ensure that our God-given potential is recognized and realized, and soon. We need more leaders who are willing to step up in times of need like this, and I commend Travis and his team,” said Rev. Dr. Johnnie Greene, president of Mobilizing Preachers and Communities (“MPAC”) and senior pastor at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem, N.Y.
Rev. Dr. D.Z. Cofield, MPAC member and pastor of the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, said, “At a time when the Black community is still struggling to overcome the twin crises of the pandemic and racial injustice, and all their negative impacts on our physical, financial, mental and spiritual health, Travis is providing unmatched assistance with HEAL. I applaud him for doing what his community needs at such a critical time.”