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Philanthropist Establishes Scholarship in Honor of Spelman Alumna Marian Wright Edelman Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
(404) 798-5212
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Edelman Scholarship Spelman College Community ServiceATLANTA (September 8, 2020) -- Spelman College students who have a commitment to community engagement will receive extra support thanks to a gift from philanthropist Amy Falls, even as the College celebrates one of its illustrious alumnae, Marian Wright Edelman, C’60.

In honor of her husband’s 60th birthday, Falls recently donated funding to Spelman to establish the Marian Wright Edelman, C’60, Endowed Scholarship in Community Service in honor of Mr. Hartley R. Rogers.

Named for Edelman, a civil rights activist, the scholarship will provide financial support for students with a strong background in community service and its announcement comes on the occasion of her retirement from the Children’s Defense Fund, the groundbreaking organization she founded and served as president for 47 years.

Amy Falls Spelman College Gift"Now more than ever, it seems we need strong leaders to help heal and advance all of our communities and address issues of structural inequality and access to opportunity,” said Falls.   “Spelman is uniquely positioned to identify and nurture future leaders and we are honored to help advance that mission in this small way.”

Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund, has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. A graduate of Spelman and Yale Law School, Edelman began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi.

In 1968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children’s Defense Fund. For two years she served as the director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in 1973, she began CDF.

“This scholarship comes at a critical time for future leaders,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “It is our hope that the gift from Falls, in honor of her husband, and named for one of Spelman “sheroes,” will inspire students to continue Edelman’s legacy of advocating for human rights and meaningful change.”

Recently, the CDF announced that Edelman will step down and hand over the reins to the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, an activist known for his work in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a Black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Edelman will remain as president emerita but will not be involved in day-to-day operations.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit


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