In an unusually generous gesture by a woman known for extraordinarily generous gestures, Ellen DeGeneres, in partnership with Walmart, surprised the entire graduating class of Summit Academy Charter School with four-year scholarships to the State University of New York school of their choice.
The gift was a surprise, and surpassed the high bar Ellen’s heart-warming gifts have always reached through the years. The scholarship money is worth $1.6 million and will be given to the 41 seniors scheduled to graduate this coming spring.
The students were completely shocked by the gift, saying it was “stunning” and “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The story of the scholarship money began when the founder of the Summit Academy Charter School, Natasha Campbell, got in touch with DeGeneres about the inspirational story of the school. Campbell described to Ellen the extreme poverty of the neighborhood where the children in the school come from, where only 4 percent of the people there have college educations. DeGeneres invited Campbell, and the school’s principal, Cheryl Lundy Swift, to come to the show and share their story. In return Ellen gave them a $25,000 check from Walmart to continue the goals of the school.
The school’s mission is to have their students “attend, excel and graduate from college.” Now, with not only a 100 percent college acceptance rate on track and, thanks to Ellen and Walmart, the money to actually attend, the school’s, and the student’s dreams, can be achieved.