Scholarship Rewards Students Looking to Change the World

Since Sept. 15, an application has been available to the prestigious Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program at American University in Washington, D.C.–and boy, what a great reason to encourage your high schoolers to maintain good grades.

The competitive program provides full tuition, fees, and books, as well as room and board. Not only that–the full scholarship is renewable for four years, as long as scholars maintain a minimum 3.2 GPA. The program application must be completed by Dec. 15.

The World’s Pressing Needs


One aspect of this program that I love is its emphasis on addressing the world’s most pressing needs. The FDDS program seeks students who are committed to social justice and the advancement of under-resourced and underserved communities.

If you read BE Smart posts regularly or other articles on the Black Enterprise website, you know that BE is committed to helping prepare the next generation of STEM proficients. That’s one reason why we hold an annual 24- to 36-hour BE Smart Hackathon in Silicon Valley, to help expose African American college students to the world of STEM, and the possibilities that STEM proficiency affords.

But, as much as STEM is the future and although there are efforts in STEM that help to address social problems, we need to harness the efforts of those who aren’t STEM majors to help address the world’s most pressing economic, environmental, and social needs.

What an excellent and desperately needed aim.

Not Just Brains


“The Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program is developing and coaching the world’s next leading humanitarians,” said Larry Thomas, the program’s inaugural director, in an article on FDDS’s website.

“We’re competing against institutions like Yale, Harvard, Penn, and Stanford for the most talented students,” Thomas said. “And we’re attracting exceptional students who say, ‘I’m going to be a leader in public service.’ Or ‘I’m going to be a change agent or a civil rights leader.’”

“Douglass Distinguished Scholars are learning that all answers are not going to be found in a book,” he said. “It’s very easy to attract students that are smart. But you can’t inspire people, and you won’t have social impact without enhancing your social, emotional, and contextual intelligence. And that is what this program offers them.”

Want to Apply?


This exceptional program at American University is looking for high schoolers who have a 3.3 GPA (unweighted) or 3.5 GPA (weighted) and 1190 SAT (critical reading/math) or 26 ACT.

For more information, contact the Frederick Douglass Scholarship Program at 202-885-6213 or