Sarah Vaughan Scholarship


Nia Allen, winner of the Sarah Vaughan scholarship

It began as a conversation about how to provide more opportunities for outstanding African American young people at Berklee. Africian Americans have a profound influence on the music which defines Berklee. Recognizing this and motivated by a shared commitment to providing greater support for outstanding musicians who are African American, Berklee’s three African American trustees, Vivian Beard, Dolores Johnson, and David Lee, decided to establish an endowed fund to make their vision a reality.


First, they committed their own personal funds to clearly demonstrate their determination to build the fund. Then, they reached out to the African American Community in the greater Boston area, attracting close to 100 guests to a reception preceding Berklee’s Singer Showcase concert on December 2, 1999. Each trustee spoke about their personal commitment to providing opportunities to African American musicians and to bringing that community closer to Berklee. Inspired by their leadership and by their willingness to commit their own funds to make this fund a reality, Berklee trustee Mike Dreese, CEO of Newbury Comics, pledged $10,000 to this fund if his gift could be matched by the end of the year, which it was.

Recognizing the strong momentum generated by their efforts and encouraged by their early fundraising successes to establish the fund, Beard, Johnson, and Lee have launched several additional initiatives to generate support. "This is just the beginning" they stated on December 2, 1999. "We intend to build this fund so that it makes a significant difference for students now and into the future. To do that we need the support from alumni, faculty, staff, friends, parents and anyone who recognizes the profound impact that African Americans have made in contemporary music."

Trustee Vivian Beard, a well-known vocalist, performed at Berklee and dedicated the proceeds of the show to the fund. Special solicitations are launched during February, Black History Month, to generate financial support for the fund among the African American community in greater Boston. More receptions will be held to raise awareness of their efforts, to build the fund and to generate financial support for it. Alumni, parents, friends, and other members of the Berklee community who are interested in learning how they may make a gift to this fund or learn more about these efforts should call (617) 747-2569.


For more information about supporting African American Scholarships, please contact Cindy Albert Link.