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Paying it Forward: Benny and Eleanor Clark Help Make Education Attainable Through Scholarship Fund

Upon their retirement, Benny and Eleanor Clark knew that they wanted to give back to the community they have called home for 35 years. Following their passion for education, the Clarks established a scholarship fund at Central Carolina Community Foundation.

“Education is viewed as the key to unlocking so many doors, and we wanted to make this possible for other, especially in the African American community,” Mr. Clark said. “Both of us had parents who did not receive education beyond the elementary level, and we knew the struggles that went along with that.”

Having owned several McDonald’s in the Columbia area, the Clarks incorporated their employees into their scholarship vision. The purpose of their fund is to provide scholarships to South Carolina residents who are African American McDonald’s franchise owners-operators, senior management or administrative support staff along with their dependents. The Benny and Eleanor Clark Scholarship is also available to South Carolina residents attending a Historically Black College or University located in the state.

“With the help of your generosity through this scholarship, I was able to purchase my textbooks and solely concentrate on my academic studies,” Zhariah Walker, 2020-2021 Benny and Eleanor Clark Scholarship Recipient and Claflin University student, said. “I am committed to striving for academic excellence, and I humbly say thank you for investing in young adults like me who are aspiring to make a positive impact in this global society.”

The scholarships provided through the Clarks’ Fund are making education attainable to students in the present while simultaneously building the next generation of philanthropists. Many of the recipients have expressed the desire to give to others in the future as an act of appreciation for the gift of education. This feeling of gratitude from recipients is what makes the fund so special to the Clarks.

“It is a rewarding feeling knowing you are sowing something positive,” Mrs. Clark said. “You can remember when you were in that situation worrying how you were going to make tuition bills, and having a scholarship is rewarding to the student as it gives them the inspiration to continue to do better,” Mr. Clark added.

Scholarships are a rewarding experience for all involved. To learn more about how CCCF can help you start your own scholarship fund or with your other charitable giving needs, contact Michelle Hardy, Vice President for Advancement.