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Fifty-six years ago, Black Americans were given their “second emancipation” with the signing of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It was this law that banned segregation on the grounds of race, religion, or national origin in public places and opened the door for the desegregation of schools.

And it’s because of this law that 11 bright and motivated local students were able to get an education at schools across San Antonio and – with the help of scholarships from the San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Inc. – go on to enroll at the college of their choice. These same students can now dream of becoming the next African American president, the next Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, or Tyler Perry.

Link Yonnie Blanchette congratulates scholarship recipient Kenya Thomas. She’s one of 11 scholarship awardees. Credit: The San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

The Youth Achievers Award Program began in 1977 and has morphed into the Salute to Youth Program, which annually recognizes students for a cross section of achievements, including academic excellence, artistic development, and school and community participation. The 2020 scholarship program awarded $25,000 ($2,500 each) to 10 students and one $3,000 scholarship to a student who will attend a historically Black college.

In lieu of a face-to-face ceremony, scholarship winners were given congratulatory signs. Credit: The San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Incorporated

Over the years, the San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Inc. has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships and established a $126,000 endowment fund through the Alamo Colleges Foundation to benefit students enrolled at St. Philip’s College, San Antonio’s only educational institution designated as an HBCU.

The San Antonio chapter was chartered in 1960 and is a part of a larger, not-for-profit corporation founded in 1946 in Philadelphia. It consists of over 16,000 professional women, predominantly of African descent, in 288 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. Internationally, The Links Inc. has contributed $3.5 million to scholarships and nearly $600,000 to HBCUs from 2017 to 2019.

The organization’s community service programs address five areas: services to youth; the arts; national trends and services; international trends and services; and health and human services. San Antonio chapter members have accumulated thousands of hours in volunteer service at numerous schools in San Antonio Independent School District, the Eastside Boys and Girls Club, and other community agencies. In addition to providing scholarships, the chapter continues its focus on increasing literacy rates of local middle and high school students and supporting STEM-related activities.

Some of the chapter’s past scholarship recipients include the founder and president of the National Empowerment Alliance, which encourages civic engagement among teens; and a first-place winner in the DECA State Competition in Entrepreneurship in Business. Additionally, many of the scholarship awardees have earned Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Awards for achieving over 100 hours of community service hours.

As we celebrate this momentous day in history, we know there is much more work to do to truly give our children equal opportunities. We are reminded by the quote from child advocate Marian Wright Edelman, “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.”

The San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Inc. congratulates and celebrates this year’s scholarship recipients: Mychael Brown of Lee High School; Reeshemran Davis of Taft High School; McKenzie Hervey of Alamo Heights High School; Jason Dones of Reagan High School; Kayla Mahler of Judson Early College Academy; Ifunanya Kendra Obi of Communications Arts High School; Essie Richardson of St. Philip’s Early College High School; Aliana Sereal of Stevens High School; Bayleigh Sanders of Brennan High School; Kenya Thomas of John Jay Science and Engineering Academy; and Jada Young of Keystone High School.

If you would like to learn more about the San Antonio chapter’s scholarship program or next year’s deadline, please visit www.sanantoniolinks.org/scholarships.

The San Antonio Chapter of The Links, Incorporated celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020 of serving the San Antonio community. The Links is one of the nation’s oldest service organizations of women...