What do we know about Brown vs. Board of Education program?

Published 1:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Brown vs. Board of Education Scholarship Program has been around since the early 2000s and lately has not been properly utilized. Here is who the scholarship is for and the changes coming soon.

Brown vs. Board of Education Scholarship Program was started to help provide education to those denied it in Virginia public schools between 1954 and 1964 when certain schools closed to avoid desegregation. One of these schools was famously Prince Edward County. The scholarship provides the opportunity for these folks to finish their high school diploma or GED or further their education through college or technical school. 

“I’ve seen this be used by someone to help them get their Ph.D.,” said Cainan Townsend. He serves as managing director at the Moton Museum. 

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There are certain criteria that need to be met in order to apply. First, this is for current Virginia residents who went to public school in Prince Edward County, as well as Arlington, Charlottesville, Norfolk and Warren during this time. Due to the closure, these students were unable to finish high school, had to relocate, be unable to attend private school or be unable to pursue secondary education due to not being able to obtain a high school diploma or its equivalent. 

Applications are due March 25. To apply or learn more about how to qualify, visit brownscholarship.virginia.gov. 

A coming change

A problem has arisen since this program started in the early 2000s. Due to nearly 20 years passing, many of the students who were in school from 1954 and 1964 to feel these effects are now at or near retirement age. According to Towsend, the program still has money being put into it but it’s not getting used. 

A recent vote passed an amendment unanimously for this scholarship in the General Assembly. Soon, the scholarship will be opened up to the descendants of these students who faced these hardships, as long as they still live in Virginia. The bill is expected to be signed this summer by Gov. Glenn Younkin. 

“This is a pretty remarkable opportunity to open this scholarship up and show the generational impact of these school closures,” said Townsend. “I know those impacted by the closures would love to see this opportunity passed down for their kids and grandchildren.”