Twelve young men from South Miami-Dade County were recently recognized for their academic achievements in high school during a tumultuous year that was marked by a world-wide pandemic, school closures, and virtual learning.

The students were awarded nearly $8,000 in academic scholarships by the Iota Pi Lambda Education Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the Iota Pi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The foundation has awarded numerous scholarships since 1997.

The scholarships were part of the organization’s Go to High School, Go to College initiative which aims to increase the high school graduation and college matriculation rates of minority young men.

“The scholarship committee believes that finances should not be the barrier of historically marginalized communities advancing their pursuit of post-secondary education,” said Bryan Jones, chair of the education foundation.

“As a Fraternity founded initially for college men, we stand on the belief that it is our responsibility to assist those who have proven their commitment to

academics, community service, and having an all-around love of those they come in contact with,” Jones said.

While the pandemic challenged the fraternity’s members to create new ways to raise funds and identify scholarship applicants, the goal of the supporting students remained unchanged.

“This year, we were blessed to be able to award 12 different scholarships ranging in amounts from $250 up to $1500, for a total of $7,800, in our largest distribution of scholarship monies to date,” Jones said. “We look forward to raising a larger amount of funds in order to be able to sew into the lives of more young men as they rise to become the next generation of leaders for our communities.”

Scholarships were awarded to:

• Darrell Bellinger, Booker T. Washington High School

• Adam Pineiro, Coral Reef Senior High School

• Caleb Young, Palmer Trinity High School

• Donovan Bryant, Coral Reef Senior High School

• Carlos Santana, M.A.S.T. Academy Homestead

• Jason St. Vil, South Dade Senior High School

• Cole Spires, South Dade Senior High School

• Kevin Rojas, M.A.S.T. Academy Homestead

• Donald Ferguson, Coral Reef High School

• Kyndal Royal, Palmer Trinity High School

• Nathaniel Forbes, Robert Morgan Educational Center

• Olatomiwa Aluko, TERRA Environmental

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