3 black men are revolutionizing access to scholarships

After winning over $1 million in college scholarships, these winners have started successful businesses helping others secure funding.

Yes, a college degree is still worth it—graduates are less likely to be unemployed than those with a high school diploma, earning about $1.2 million more over their lifetime. But as the cost of higher education continues to rise—it’s up a staggering 169% since 1980—college can be financially out of reach for many.

A recent Lumina Foundation-Gallup State of Higher Education 2022 survey found that only 9% of Americans “believe that quality, affordable higher education is available to all Americans who want it.” According to the Education Data Initiative, attending a four-year public school costs an average of over $26,000 per year, and a four-year private college will cost you nearly $55,000 on average.

Students can turn to student loans to fill college funding gaps—despite the potential long-term consequences. Or they can use scholarships, some of which can provide them with full travel through their college experience.

It is possible, especially for black students, as evidenced by these three black scholarship recipients who turned their scholarship experience into a business, lighting the way for others who want to do the same.

Million dollar scientist

Derrius Lamar Okiro Quarles knows scholarships. When pursuing his undergraduate degree as a first-generation college student, he secured over $1 million in scholarships. Quarles didn’t want to be the only one with this know-how.

While attending Morehouse College, he organized free workshops for low-income families in his hometown of Chicago. In 2013, Quarles and classmate Ras Asan founded Million Dollar Scholar, a platform providing guidance, mentoring, training and access to scholarship pathways for a fee.

The New York Times called him a “financial miracle” for his efforts and success in co-founding a multi-million dollar scholarship and investment company BREAUX Capital.

Let’s grow with Gabi

Princeton University graduate Gabriella Carter has won more than $2 million in scholarships to help her pursue higher education. As an entrepreneur and content creator, “Free Money Maven” helps others find and earn scholarships.

“I decided to look at social media as the great equalizer so that I can just spread information when I find it,” she told CNBC in 2023. “And people all over the world can really benefit from my experience. “

So far, Carter claims to have helped more than 450 students receive $500,000 in scholarships and plans to continue. Along with offering its own scholarships, Free Money Maven has resources for high school, college, graduate, and international students.

In addition to a list of scholarships, students can pay for resume reviews, advice on negotiating financial aid packages, and college essay editing.


You may recognize Christopher Gray and Scholly, a scholarship search platform, from his appearance on Shark Tank, where he walked away with a $40,000 investment from Daymond John and Laurie Greiner. Last year, Sallie Mae acquired the company, making the platform free for all users.

Gray’s success story began years ago when he secured $1.3 million in scholarships to attend Drexel University. Now known as Scholly by Sallie, the platform offers access to over $100 million in scholarship opportunities.

“Our goal is to reduce student debt, an issue that’s really key for people of color,” he told EBONY magazine in August 2023.


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