A Bed-Stuy tutoring service has launched a $1,000 scholarship for HBCU students in memory of its first donor, who passed away from COVID-19.

MB Tutoring Founder MJ Bryant said the Celena Thomas Memorial Scholarship was formed to continue Thomas’ legacy of giving back to the community and supporting scholars to and through college.

MJ Bryant. Photo: MB Tutoring website.

“Celena was an alumna of Florida A&M University and she consistently donated her time, resources and money to students and organizations that promote education and student wellness,” Bryant said, adding the scholarship would create a legacy she would be proud of.

To apply for the scholarship, students must be attending an HBCU, have at least a 2.5 GPA and write a short essay answering the prompt: “Studies show that 30% of college students dropout within their first year. Describe your plan for success during your freshman year. How will winning the Celena Thomas Memorial Scholarship help keep you on the track for college graduation?”

Bryant is holding an event on Feb. 27 at Bushwick’s Industry Kitchen to announce the winner of the competition, and he said he wanted every student leaving the event with the understanding that they are loved by their community and country.

“We want scholars to feel supported and we want them to know that even people they have never met are cheering them on to the finish line,” Bryant said.

“This scholarship is to build community, it’s to encourage brotherhood and to ensure scholars are sent off to college with the determination to finish the process.”

Bryant said he starting his tutoring service after he found, as a middle school English teacher, that several of his students were missing necessary foundational skills.

“I had 8th graders who were reading on 5th grade reading levels and there was nothing that I could do about it during my class time.  In order to help, MB Tutoring was born and within our first month we were serving kids in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and Alabama,” he said.

His aim, he said, was to ensure students achieve their academic goals and develop a love for learning, “and we give them the tools they need in order to be successful in their schools and lives.”

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