Columbia, SC -- April 9, 2014 -- The Ray Charles Foundation has recently awarded a $500,000 gift to Benedict College. One hundred thousand dollars of the grant will be used to develop one of the most technologically advanced Music Industry teaching studios and classrooms in the nation to support the new Music Industry Degree Program at the College. The remaining $400,000 will form The Ray Charles Endowment Scholarship for "Ray Charles Scholars." These prestigious scholarships will be provided to Benedict College students in the Music Industry Program, and will cover the cost of tuition, fees, and books.
"Benedict College is very proud to receive this generous gift from the Ray Charles Foundation," said Dr. David H. Swinton, President and CEO of Benedict College. "This gift is a significant investment that will generate remarkable opportunity for our students. It will help them learn, develop, and inspire the world through music."
"Benedict College is exactly the kind of educational institution of higher learning that Mr. Charles wanted to support when he established the Ray Charles Foundation," stated Ms. Valerie Ervin, president of the Ray Charles Foundation. He placed a premium on insuring that students from low-income families can have an outstanding college career and to prepare for a successful adult life. The fact that Benedict College, a historically black college, has such an outstanding record of academic achievement is a further important reason for the Foundation to provide a $500,000 grant."
"This is a very exciting opportunity for Benedict College to receive the largest grant in the history of the Fine Arts Department- $500,000 award from The Ray Charles Foundation," said Mr. James Orlick, Professor of Music at Benedict College. "We are honored that we can continue the educational legacy of Ray Charles, an American icon of the music industry, to produce leaders in the Music Technology Industry. It speaks to our core mission to be 'a power for good in society' and innovation through offering a comprehensive Music Industry Program. We are grateful to the Ray Charles Foundation for investing in the education of our students in the Music Industry Program. We have received a lot of prospective students to major in the new Music Industry Program at Benedict College as a result of the grant award from The Ray Charles Foundation."
In 1986, Ray Charles founded "The Robinson Foundation for Hearing Disorders." In 2006, the official name of the foundation was changed to The Ray Charles Foundation, yet its mission remained the same. From 1986 until his passing in 2004, in addition to providing financial support in the area of hearing disorders, Ray Charles directed the foundation to make donations and support institutions and organizations for educational purposes. Over the past 23 years, the foundation has provided financial donations to various institutions involved in the areas of hearing disorders as well as education.