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Moton raises money for scholarships

Community members and the Robert Russa Moton Museum are coming together to raise money for two new scholarships and funding for museum programs.

The scholarships will go to two students of Prince Edward County High School who are descendants of families affected by the closing of the county’s public schools from 1959 to 1964.

The scholarships are funded by money raised during the museum’s annual Moton Family Challenge, according to Justin Reid, director of education and public programs.

This is the sixth year of the Moton Family Challenge but the first time that scholarships have been awarded. Joy Speakes, who chairs the Moton Family Challenge, helped found the event six years ago.

Speakes said that the Family Challenge was “a vision that I had in 2010 when we were talking about fundraising for the museum.”

The fundraising for this year’s event began in October and will close with the annual community awards banquet in October of this year. The date for the banquet has not been set.

The scholarships will be awarded next spring, most likely in March, said Speakes, who noted that a committee will evaluate applications for the scholarships. Most likely, applicants will be required to submit both their grades and a written essay, she said.

The value of the scholarships will be determined by how much money is raised. “The more money we raise, the more we can give for the scholarship,” Speakes said.

Families that are not a part of the family challenge can join at any time before the banquet and start raising money.

Participating families have raised about $250,000 since 2010. Funding supports the ongoing programming of the Moton Museum, in addition to the two scholarships that are being added.

Speakes said families from all over the country participate in the challenge. Last year 80 families participated, and this year organizers plan to have at least that many.

“Last year we raised $67,000 in one year, and this year our goal is to raise more than we did last year,” Speakes said.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing that people of the Prince Edward communities and the families have come together to support the museum through Moton Family Challenge,” she added.

According to the museum, individuals can designate donations in memory or in honor of  school-age children at the time and their families who sacrificed their education to transform American education for all in subsequent court rulings. 

Speakes said, “We know when the schools were closed, it affected all families in Prince Edward County because one way or another they ended up in private schools or they ended up out of town, so all were affected because it broke up families.”

Each participating family designates a Family Captain who helps contact relatives and share information about the museum’s missions and programs. The person helps encourage family members to make tax-deductible contributions. There may also be a junior captain of each family team to help encourage younger members to get involved, according to the museum.

Interested parties may get involved with the challenge by encouraging friends and family members to donate, using social media to share the fundraiser, and by sponsoring raffles, garage sales and other fundraising activities.

The family who raises the highest number of donations each month will have $50 added to their donation count.

At the end of each year-long challenge, there are awards given to the groups that raise the most money. Speakes said it has become really competitive because each family wants to win a trophy.

Please contact the Moton Museum at (434) 315-8775, ext. 0, for information about the Moton Family Challenge.