Executive Seeks to Offset the Damage Done by Opening Up Black-Only College Scholarships to Low-Income Students of All Races

The Davis-Chambers Scholarships have provided money for black students to attend state-operated colleges and universities in Nebraska. In 2005, 51 black students were enrolled in Nebraska colleges under the Davis-Chambers scholarship program. The program is named after Dick Davis, an Omaha insurance executive who gave the seed money for the endowment fund, and Nebraska state senator Ernie Chambers, who sponsored the legislation creating the scholarship program, which is partially funded by the state.

The Davis-Chambers Scholarship Program has been a major success. Students who have received the scholarships have had a higher grade point average than students generally in state-operated colleges and universities. And 63 percent have gone on to graduate from college within six years, a rate far superior than the statewide average.

However, to ward off potential litigation regarding this race-based scholarship fund, recently the state opened the scholarship program to low-income students of all races. So Dick Davis is mounting a fundraising campaign to double the size of the endowment so that at least as many black students will be able to receive funds as was the case under the black-only scholarship program.