Oprah Winfrey

Photo: Ruven Afanador

In 1989, when Oprah started a scholarship fund at Morehouse College, the all-male, historically black school in Atlanta, her goal was to help a few young men earn their degree. Little did she know she was setting off a chain reaction of giving that continues today.
Brandon Douglas

Photo: Courtesy of Brandon Douglas

Brandon Douglas, Class of '09
Having applied too late for standard scholarships, Douglas left Durham, North Carolina, "on a wing and a prayer." Right before classes started, he received Oprah's gift, which covered his tuition. "Her generosity turned my potential energy into kinetic energy," says Douglas, who's planning to attend law school.

Bridging the Gap
On a trip to South Africa, Douglas was impressed by the dedication of local business school students, many of whom walked eight miles to class. He and a classmate started the Bridging the Gap Between a House and a Home Scholarship, which gave $50 to roughly 100 African students.

AIDS Education
In 2008 Bridging the Gap recipients took part in a conference at Morehouse, where they explored, among other things, strategies for improving AIDS education efforts in South Africa.

Habitat for Humanity
Douglas worked with Habitat for Humanity to construct three-bedroom homes in Meridian, Mississippi, for families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Van Adamson

Photo: Courtesy of Van Adamson

Major (Dr.) Van Adamson, Class of '01
Adamson was offered the Oprah scholarship for the fall semester of his sophomore year. (He later enrolled in ROTC, which paid the remainder of his tuition.) After graduating, he completed medical school, went on active duty, and is now an air force major and cardiology fellow.

Healing in Iraq
In 2009 Adamson treated American soldiers—often amputees injured by improvised explosive devices—and critically injured Iraqi citizens at Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad, Iraq.

Serving Stateside
Adamson currently sees veterans, soldiers, and their families in cardiology clinics at Wilford Hall and Brooke Army medical centers, both in San Antonio. "The scholarship started a ripple effect," he says.

Going Forward
Adamson plans to open free primary care clinics in impoverished neighborhoods and hopes to play a role in crafting public health legislation.
Anthony Jewett

Photo: Echoing Green

Anthony Jewett, Class of '03
A first-generation college student, Jewett lost his freshman-year grant due to poor grades. When he returned to Morehouse following a summer of volunteer work in Africa, the school offered him the Oprah scholarship, which was, he says, "a miraculous second chance."

Teach for America
After graduation, Jewett became a bilingual elementary school teacher in the Bronx, working with kids who rarely left their neighborhoods.

National Center for Global Engagement (NC4GE)
Drawing from his teaching experiences, Jewett cofounded NC4GE, which has sent more than 250 students from high-needs schools to study abroad in 26 countries.

Project Reach
On an NC4GE trip to Panama, high school student Serah Wise met girls and women who lacked basic supplies like toothpaste and tampons. Upon returning to the United States, she helped start Project Reach, a group that sent 1,000 toiletry kits back to Panama.

Mujeres Bella Leer
Through NC4GE, high school student Adia Dightman visited villages in Argentina where literacy rates were low,then started a reading program for women in Houston, her hometown.

Shaka Rasheed

Photo: Douglas Adesko

Sháka Rasheed, Class of '93
To pay for college, Rasheed solicited donations from community leaders in his hometown of Miami. But still short on funds just days before starting his sophomore year, he was granted a full scholarship. "I cried like a kid," he says. He's now a hedge fund senior manager.

Sons of Oprah Campaign
This year Rasheed and two other alums encouraged 127 Scholars to donate $300,000 and pledge $1.2 million by 2014. Combined with the Oprah fund, they're supporting 71 students.

David Rodell Boyd II Shoebox Christmas Program
Started in 2009 by current Oprah Scholar Julian Boyd to honor his brother, who died in a car crash, Shoebox has given away hundreds of toys to impoverished preschoolers in Atlanta.

As an associate at J.P. Morgan in 1995, Rasheed met Luis Belén, an intern from East Harlem. Rasheed became Belén's mentor, introducing him to colleagues, teaching him trading floor etiquette, and buying him an interview suit. Belén now owns a business consulting firm.

Medic Success
Inspired by Rasheed's example of service, Belén launched Medic Success, a firm that connects health providers and agencies with underserved (particularly Latino) communities.

Shaun King

Photo: Ross Oscar Knight

Shaun King, Class of '01
In 1995 King was the victim of a brutal hate crime. Despite undergoing three spinal surgeries and missing two years of high school, he earned a scholarship to Morehouse at age 17. He lost his funding when he was forced to take a medical leave but became an Oprah Scholar upon his return.

A Home in Haiti
King started the nonprofit A Home in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake devastated the island nation. He used the Internet and Twitter to raise $2 million in emergency aid, and supplied nearly 12,000 tents to people who were left homeless.

World Aid Now
Nate Cousineau, a King Twitter follower, was so inspired by A Home in Haiti he decided to launch World Aid Now. The group has funded the construction of 30 new homes for flood victims in Pakistan.

Livestrong Foundation
Photographer Ross Oscar Knight joined King in Haiti, where he captured the earthquake's aftermath. One of his prints was auctioned off to benefit Lance Armstrong's foundation for cancer research.

Community Service in Atlanta
Motivated by the generosity he'd been shown, King spent three years as a motivational speaker in Atlanta's juvenile justice system. He now uses social media to raise money for worthy causes, among them, providing 8,000 meals to poor families and more than $1 million for flood victims.

Disaster Relief and Disaster Training (DRADT)
After volunteering with King's flood relief program in 2009, Chance Craven founded DRADT, which offers logistical support to aid workers and victims of natural disasters.

Lawrence Stallings

Photo: Courtesy of Lawrence Stallings

Lawrence Stallings, Class of '00
A technical error incorrectly identified Stallings as a part-time student his senior year, and he lost his financial aid package. At the last minute, Morehouse awarded him an Oprah scholarship, allowing him to finish his education and receive his B.A. in psychology. He went on to earn a graduate degree in theater at Temple University and is now appearing on Broadway in The Book of Mormon.

Family Life Theatre
As a member of the Family Life Theatre company, Stallings visits New York City middle schools and high schools to perform skits that foster an open dialogue with students about bullying, unprotected sex, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Going Forward
Stallings hopes to one day use theater as a treatment strategy in a children's therapy practice.
Reginald Cleaver

Photo: Courtesy of Reginald Cleaver

Reginald Cleaver Jr., Class of '09
As an Oprah Scholar, Cleaver traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, to help with AIDS education efforts. He plans to obtain a doctorate in ministry, with an emphasis on community outreach in impoverished neighborhoods. "Because Oprah invested in me," he explains, "I became an advocate for other young men."

Fund-Raising Efforts
As president of the Young People's Division of the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 2007 to 2011, he led fund-raisers that yielded more than $50,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti and more than $25,000 for scholarships around the world.

Haiti Relief
The disaster relief funds Cleaver raised were donated to AME-SADA, a humanitarian, nonprofit arm of the church, and used to provide medical services and counseling to patients in hard-to-reach communities.

Homeless Advocacy
Through his work with Central Outreach & Advocacy Center, Cleaver helped Atlanta's homeless obtain state identification, birth certificates, and other documentation necessary to apply for jobs. He's also volunteered with Emily's Haven, an outreach ministry that offers GED classes and other services to impoverished women.

Start your own ripple effect today