The Gordon Parks Foundation

Gordon Parks was a seminal figure in twentieth century photography. A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice, he left behind a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture from the early 1940s up until his death in 2006, with a focus on race relations, poverty, Civil Rights, and urban life. The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks – making it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media – and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.”

The Gordon Parks Foundation established the Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Fund in conjunction with the centennial of Parks’ birth. This fund is to provide scholarships to students of the arts who may otherwise be unable to pursue further instruction in the creative arts.

The Foundation has chosen Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation as one of the first partner organizations for the Fund. The Fund provides $5,000 scholarships to an outstanding students from Rush, to be applied to school-related expenses and continued creative endeavors during their academic years. The winning candidate also attends the Gordon Parks Foundation Annual Benefit in New York City and makes brief remarks at the event.

Below are our Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Fund recipients over the past three years:

2014 Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Awarded to Abrielle Johnson

Abrielle Johnson has been a Rush Kid (the Rush Teen) since the programs inception in 2005. Abby is a serious artist who enjoys portraiture and figurative drawing and painting. Abby is also a DJ with a regular gig at the Brooklyn, Children’s Museum providing fun music for their Free Friday Jams, Back to School Jam, and their Halloween Monster Mash. She participated as a DJ in the High School Nation/Atlantic Records Atlantic/High Tour to raise money and awareness for the vital need for art programs in public schools. She has applied to several top-notch colleges and looks forward to enrolling as a freshman to work towards her BFA in the fall.

2013 Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Awarded to Quentin Williamston

Quentin Williamston is a senior at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia School for Music and Art & the Performing Arts in New York City. He has participated in Rush Education Programs since 2004, including Rush Kids and Rush Teens. He was a Rush Education Intern and Mentor and he participated in the Rush Portfolio Development pilot. Quentin has also been involved in the Black Student Union and through that involvement he co-organized a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. He has also been a member of Aspira, attending weekly discussions on local, national and global issues, and he is a member of the Mathematics Club, competing in weekly math challenges at his school.

2012 Gordon Parks Centennial Scholarship Awarded to Shalisa Chang

Shalisa Chang was born and raised in Brooklyn and attended Lyons Community School in Bushwick, where she was introduced to the Rush Gallery in the School program. Shalisa instantly took to being a Rush Teen and remained highly involved throughout her high school career. While at Lyons, Shalisa also attended Long Island University’s Summer Bridge Project where the curriculum involved exploring significant locations in Brooklyn and creating one’s own interpretation through words and images. Shalisa says “Rush has had a major impact on my future and current goals. It is absolutely a privilege to work with a range of teaching artists and experiment with various mediums. The experience of being a Rush Kid or Rush Teen is very significant to me because it isn’t just the art making process alone but also lifelong skills being taught during each class, preparing us for the real world. I have been a part of the Rush Community for five years now, since I was a freshman in high school. After graduation I was offered an opportunity to inter with Rush, so although I still had the option to make art I also had the chance to help other students, playing a leadership role.”