Eleven recent high school graduates were awarded college scholarships yesterday at the 11th annual Rays of Hope Scholarship and Awards Breakfast.
The breakfast drew nearly 500 guests to the Inner Harbor's Hyatt Regency, where about $20,000 in scholarships was awarded to young black men, said Teddy Coates, president of Black Professional Men Inc.
Coates said the organization hoped not only to provide scholarships, but also to introduce the graduates to potential role models.
The event also recognized African-American men who have contributed to their community through education, politics, business, medicine, religion, and community and charitable service.
"I think we're an organization of diverse young black professional men who really care and act like a family," Coates said.
"One of the things that I think is really beneficial for the kids is that they get to meet guys that are in professions that they've never ... seen black men hold," he said.
Black Professional Men Inc. began in 1991 when a group of black business owners in Baltimore met with city officials to discuss ways to inspire black youths.
Now, 13 years later, Randy Sneed Jr., 16, a recent graduate of Polytechnic Institute, said he couldn't imagine not having the organization around.
"I saw men who were real men, and it gave me a determination to be successful like them," he said. "They opened my eyes to new horizons," said Sneed, who graduated two years early and plans to attend Towson University in the fall.
Coates said the scholarship process was competitive and that about 40 students from area high schools applied.
Coates, who's been involved with the organization for five years, said the mentoring aspect of the organization is important because many of the students are faced with negative images daily.
"Some of them are in depressed neighborhoods. Some of them are without black male role models in the home," Coates said.
"There are so many negatives fighting black youths that you never can have too many black role models."
Black Professional Men Inc. awarded scholarships to 11 high school graduates. Listed are their high schools and the colleges they plan to attend.
Thomas Artis Jr., City College, Frostburg State University.
Brandon Brooks, Long Reach High School, North Carolina A&T State University.
Candido Brown, City College, Eugene Lang College.
Jonathan Burke, Baltimore School for the Arts, Ithaca College.
Michael Gross, Atholton High School, Drexel University.
Nicholas Hawkins, Polytechnic Institute, Loyola College.
Eric Jackson Jr., Southside Academy, Morgan State University.
Jordan Matthew, Polytechnic Institute, Morgan State University.
Paul Samuels Jr., Randallstown High School, Howard University.
Randy Sneed Jr., Polytechnic Institute, Towson University.
Jahad Whitaker, Western School of Technology, Norfolk State University.