Citizens Bank and UNCF team up to award $50,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors

The "Citizens Helping Citizens" scholarship will award $50,000 to students, including those from low-income and underrepresented communities.

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Matías Tarnopolsky, Leslie Patterson-Tyler and Youma Diabira

Matías Tarnopolsky, president and chief executive officer, and Leslie Patterson-Tyler, vice president, program communications and partnerships, accept the Community Champion M.A.S.K.E.D. award on behalf of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts. The performer arts leader recently announced a $100,000 gift to UNCF to develop the Marian Anderson Endowed Scholarship. Xavier University student Youma Diabira accompanies them. (MediaMix)

Some good news for students who may need a last-minute scholarship to help with costs associated with attending school this fall. Citizens Bank and the United Negro College Fund have teamed up to offer $50,000 in financial assistance through their first-ever “Citizens Helping Citizens” scholarship.  

Ten high school students will be rewarded $5,000 each to attend a two- or four-year accredited college, university or trade school next school year. 

The UNCF is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to students who attend historically Black colleges and universities and have provided scholarships to students for more than seven decades.   

The average cost to attend a four-year college could range anywhere between $27–36,000 a year, according to a report by the Education Data Initiative.  

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With the cost of higher education on the rise, many students are left unable to cover the full cost of tuition and have opted to forego school.

But thanks to this new program, seniors from underserved and historically underrepresented communities will receive $50,000 in need-based scholarships to help during the 2024-2025 school year. 

“Coming together with UNCF to launch the Citizens Helping Citizens Scholarship allows us to accelerate our commitment in building a more inclusive future to meet the ever-changing needs of our young people,” said Yvette Vargas, executive vice president and head of development at Citizens. 

UNCF has an ongoing partnership with Citizens. Together, they will not only provide scholarships but mentorship and workforce development initiatives for students from HBCUs.

UNCF Philadelphia Area Development Director John Kirby said they are grateful for the financial assistance the scholarship would provide area students, “We commend our colleagues in Rhode Island for establishing this much needed Citizens Helping Citizens scholarship,” said Kirby.

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“We encourage our students from the Philadelphia area to submit their applications.”

Kirby said the local chapter has also worked hard to raise millions for area students.

Since 2017, UNCF Philadelphia has provided 945 scholarship awards totaling nearly $12.5 million scholarships for students in Philadelphia, with an average award of $13,012.

Youma Diabira, Richard Lee Snow and Cherelle Parker
Mayor Cherelle Parker and Richard Lee Snow (regional development director at UNCF) with UNCF Scholar Youma Diabira (Xavier University of Louisiana) auctioning the official Mayor’s Masks. (Courtesy Ken Frieson)

Kirby said the Mayor’s Masked Ball and Women of Faith For Education Afternoon Tea are their biggest fundraisers.

“Over the past 12 years, the Mayor’s Masked Ball has raised an average of $550,000 yearly. This year, with the support of the Honorable Cherelle L. Paker, the event raised a record over $800,000,” said Kirby.

Cherelle Parker holds an auction mask
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. Parker presenting the Jeff Guaracino Mayor’s Masks during the live mask auction. Creator Alloyius Mcilwaine designed the masks. (Rashiid Marcell Photography)

Philadelphia scholarship award recipients have attended HBCUs Lincoln and Cheyney University as well as Temple and Drexel University.

Ric Harris and Thomas Haley
Masked Recipient Ric Harris (president/general manager NBC10) with student Thomas Haley (Community College of Philadelphia). (Courtesy Ken Frieson)

UNCF reports Philadelphia is among the top five cities to award $11 million in scholarships to students, and the organization has helped more than 500,000 students earn college degrees. 

Students are encouraged to apply before the May 13 deadline.

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