Utilities provider Dominion Energy has announced $500,000 in 2021 scholarships aimed at helping underrepresented minority high school seniors or graduates enrolling in college or vocational schools for the upcoming academic year.
“We have partnered with historically black colleges and universities for nearly 40 years, offering volunteer and financial support,” Dominion Energy’s Executive Chairman and former CEO Thomas Farrell, II, said in a press release. “This scholarship program is another way for us to support the students who will one day lead our nation.”
Dominion Energy has come under fire from progressives for its record on race, with a March 2020 lawsuit alleging discrimination against Black employees, and a July 2020 article from The Huffington Post that questioned the way Farrell portrayed Confederate soldiers in the Civil War drama “Field of Lost Shoes.” In October, Dominion announced that Farrell would step down from President and CEO to his current role as Executive Chairman.
Virginia Democrats have also criticized the outsize political power of Dominion Energy, and many progressive politicians have made it clear that they want nothing to do with the company’s cash.
Applicants have until January 25 to apply for the scholarship, which will provide 20 $5,000 scholarships to students enrolling in two-year programs and 40 $10,000 scholarships to students enrolled in four-year schools. The scholarships are renewable each year as long as students maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
“Finalists are selected on the basis of academic record, demonstrated leadership and participation in school and community activities, work experience, a statement of goals and aspirations, unusual personal or family circumstances, and an online recommendation,” the Dominion Energy Educational Equity Scholarship Program website states.
The press release says students self-identify as minorities to qualify. “To be eligible, students must: self-identify as Black or African American; Hispanic or Latino; American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander with higher education expenses,” the release states.
To qualify, students must be residents of states serviced by Dominion: Connecticut, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Wyoming or Utah. In 2020, annual college tuition for Virginia residents averaged $8,370, according to College Tuition Compare, and non-Virginia residents paid $19,545 in Virginia tuition. Tuition rates vary dramatically from state to state. In neighboring North Carolina, annual tuition for residents averaged $3,507.
Students also face other costs, including housing and supplies for the year; the average Cost of Attendance for Virginia residents in 2020 is $23,855, according to College Tuition Compare.
Dominion Energy is partnering with Scholarship America to administer the scholarship.
“As we witness our country’s evolving conversation on racial equity and social justice, we want to do our part to help historically underserved students,” Dominion Energy’s new President and CEO Robert Blue said in the release. “We know that education can serve as a springboard for social and economic mobility.”
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