Diocese of Long Island awards $100K in scholarships to descendants of enslaved people

Posted Jun 22, 2022

Long Island Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano and scholarship recipient Marlene McKinney shake hands as Provenzano presents McKinney with her certificate of achievement. McKinney will attend the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the CUNY School of Medicine in the fall. She will major in biomedical science and minor in physics and she hopes to become a neurovascular surgeon. Photo: Teddy Byrne

[Diocese of Long Island] At a Juneteenth celebration on June 19 at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, bishop of Long Island, awarded $10,000 scholarships to eight college students with records of academic excellence and commitments to their communities.

The awards were the first scholarships from The Barbara C. Harris Scholars Program that was created this year by the recently formed diocesan Reparations Committee, for Black, African American, or Caribbean American descendants of enslaved people who are pursuing higher education or vocational training.

The Reparations Committee received 161 scholarship applications, which were narrowed down over the course of three rigorous rounds of evaluations, according to Penny Allen Grinage, chair of the committee.  She added, “Our goal is to continue and to expand the program each year, to help reduce financial obstacles that have prevented descendants of enslaved people from pursuing higher education.”

A diverse group of 200 from across the diocese attended the ceremonies. The Very Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and a pioneering theologian, speaker, writer and civil rights activist was the guest speaker.

The inaugural scholarship winners are:  Isaac T. Davis of Arverne, Queens; Nathan Alleyne of Garden City; Marlene McKinney of Dix Hills; Kayla Harris of Elmont; Huntah Finnie of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn; Krystyn Haney of Valley Stream; Faith Steele of Cambria Heights, Queens; and Noah Fields of Holtsville. They are first- and second-year college students who have diverse professional career aspirations that include computer science, law, media production, medicine, and psychology.

Two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) founded by The Episcopal Church were also each awarded $10,000. Ronnie Hopkins, president and CEO of Voorhees University, South Carolina, and the Rev. Hershey Mallette, dean of the chapel and spiritual life at St. Augustine’s University, North Carolina, accepted the awards on behalf of their institutions.

“Investing in these dedicated scholars who have a heart for their communities is a way of giving life to our prayer and desire to become an anti-racist church. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their bright futures,” Provenzano said. “The scholarships are sincere and visible expressions of our calling to love God and each other.”