Oxford University is making a commitment to increase diversity efforts among their student population, thanks to a scholarship funded by tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Arlan Hamilton.
The esteemed U.K. institution is partnering with Hamilton in an effort to give a select group of Black students a fair chance at competing on the educational field. Hamilton named the fund after her mother, the Earline Butler Sims Scholarship for Black scholars.
The Oxford scholarship will cover the fees and living costs for one undergraduate student selected each year, for up to three years of costs, amounting to nearly $3000,000 or £220,000, USA Today reports. Hamilton will purposefully seek out U.K. students of African and Caribbean descent, as Black students only make up 2.6 percent of Oxford’s undergraduate population.
Students will be afforded an internship with Oxford Foundry, a university entrepreneurship center Hamilton advises, and will also receive an internship grant of $3,900 in their respective field. Hamilton told the outlet that she was interested in increasing diversity after visiting the campus last year as a guest speaker. Though she did see Black students, it was not as many as she would have hoped.
Hamilton doesn’t plan on just eyeing prestigious institutions known for their lack of diversity. She also wants to give back to America’s historically Black colleges, beginning with Dillard University, located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Dillard scholarship is slated to launch in the spring.
“I plan on doing this for several schools over the next decade, and starting with Oxford because I’ve spent a great deal of time with their students and faculty, and Dillard because it’s my mom’s alma mater and shaped her,” Hamilton told USA TODAY.
Hamilton did not come from silver spoon beginnings. As a Black woman working in tech she overcame numerous odds, including homelessness, working her way to network with Silicon Valley executives. Many of whom oversaw staff who mirrored their own likeness, white and male.
Her firm, Backstage Capital, a nod to her past career as a tour manager, funds minority women and members of the LGBTQ community who are routinely disenfranchised and struggle to receive funding. A second project Hamilton co-founded, Project Cover, offers $500 grants to selected entrepreneurs and artists.
Hamilton follows the efforts made earlier this year by billionaires Robert F. Smith and Oprah Winfrey, who both invested in historically Black colleges and students, helping to alleviate the unnecessary financial burden of student debt.
She hopes that her gesture will inspire more people to invest in Black students and their education.