Submitted by Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Merrill Lynch (NYSE : MER) and the National Urban League today celebrated the expected high school graduation of 223 students across the country who have participated in the highly acclaimed ScholarshipBuilder program since its inception in 1988.
The program's mission was simple: to guarantee full and free college tuition to 250 randomly selected inner-city first-graders in 10 U.S. cities who complete their secondary school education. The results were a smashing success, with 90% of the ScholarshipBuilder youngsters expected to graduate.
"In today's inner-city schools, it is often the case that every other student drops out of high school," said David H. Komansky, chairman and chief executive officer of Merrill Lynch. "So our ScholarshipBuilder children faced a tremendous challenge in graduating. With the help of their parents, teachers, mentors and so many community volunteers, they rose to the challenge and we're tremendously proud of them. Most important, all of us, working together, have made a real difference in the lives of these young people."
In addition to tuition, ScholarshipBuilder will cover all housing and book costs with money set aside and invested by Merrill Lynch beginning in 1988. In all, the firm has committed more than $16 million toward the program, with Merrill Lynch employees contributing another $1.2 million.
Today, at receptions, dinners and other events across America, Merrill Lynch, the National Urban League, parents and teachers applauded the ScholarshipBuilder students for their achievement and wished them well as they prepare to embark upon college and vocational school careers.
"ScholarshipBuilder is enormously valuable because it is serving and propelling a number of children forward who might not have that chance," said Hugh B. Price, president and chief executive of the National Urban League. "The ScholarshipBuilder students are the future entrepreneurs, employees, taxpayers, customers, and neighbors of every American. The more highly developed those young people are, the more they can contribute to the productivity in our country."
In 1988, the Merrill Lynch Foundation decided to make a long-term investment in education and, with the help of the National Urban League, randomly selected students in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
"We hope the success of this program, one of the longest continuous educational programs ever implemented by a corporation, will encourage other organizations to get involved in similar efforts which help produce the leaders and solid citizens of the future," said Roger M. Vasey, president of Merrill Lynch's ScholarshipBuilder Foundation.
"With the concept of responsible citizenship as one of Merrill Lynch's core principles, we encourage and challenge all of our employees to provide the leadership, time and funds in their own hometowns."
Throughout the 12 years, organizers focused on academic and cultural enrichment, mentoring, parental involvement, development of "life-skills," internships and community service, explained Eddy Bayardelle, director of Merrill Lynch's Philanthropic Programs.
"Our role in the ScholarshipBuilder program was to inspire the students to follow their dreams, to raise their expectations for themselves, and to provide critical support when needed," Mr. Bayardelle said. "There's no question this was a marathon race, but there are lots of smiles as we cross the finish line."
The ScholarshipBuilder program is one of numerous educational programs supported by Merrill Lynch aimed at education and career-building by young adults. Other programs include:
Boys Harbor, Inc.
Inner-City Scholarship Fund
Institute for Student Achievement
Jackie Robinson Foundation
National Academy Foundation
National Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Prep For Prep
The College Fund/UNCF
The National Urban League
Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is a nonprofit organization whose 114 affiliates in 34 states and the District of Columbia provide direct services and function as advocates to generate policy reforms that empower African-Americans to achieve economic, academic and racial equality.
The Merrill Lynch Foundation
In September 1950, the then-named Merrill Lynch, Fenner & Beane Foundation began with a $25,000 start-up contribution from the firm. In that year, the Foundation made grants totaling $9,970 to 17 different organizations; at year-end 1999, its net assets were $30.6 million. The Foundation's 1999 grants, including pledges, totaled $11.5 million. Education again received the largest share of 1999 grants at $7.8 million or 56% of total giving. The Merrill Lynch Foundation has always made education its primary program focus.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Merrill Lynch is one of the world's leading financial management and advisory companies with offices in 43 countries and total client assets of about $1.8 trillion. As an investment bank, it is the top global underwriter and market maker of debt and equity securities and a leading strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions, and individuals worldwide. Through Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, the company is one of the world's largest managers of financial assets. For more information about Merrill Lynch, go to www.ml.com. For more information on the ScholarshipBuilder program, go to www.ml.com/reporters/scholarshipbuilder.
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