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Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Awards JCSU for Civil Rights and Social Justice

Charlotte, N.C. (July 21, 2014) -- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., honored Johnson C. Smith University with its Presidential Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice during the sorority’s 66th national convention in Charlotte on July 13. The award was presented before an audience of nearly 12,000 to President Ronald L. Carter by Carolyn House Stewart, Esq., international president of AKA, for the university’s foster care initiative.

The initiative features the Guardian Scholars Program, which offers college access support to youth who are phasing out of the foster care system. “As these students phase out of the system, they find a culture of community at JCSU that enables them to phase up to new possibilities,” said Carter. “I see so many grand possibilities these young women and men grow into their dreams and aspirations and make them a reality.”

Since its inception in 2008, the program has served 135 students. the retention rate of students in the program is as high as 75 percent. More than 80 percent of the students are African American and nearly 60 percent are female.          

“The comprehensive support services we can offer to these students significantly increases their chances of succeeding in college and in life,” said Dr. Helen Caldwell, dean of the college of professional studies. According to Cynthia Moreland, executive director of the nsoro Educational Foundation, only about two percent of students who grow up in foster care typically attend and finish college. “It is a fact that too often these students lack the support, confidence and resources needed to pursue education beyond high school,” added Patricia Newell, director of the Foster Village Network Center.

During the AKA awards ceremony, JCSU shared the stage with several notables including Anthony Hamilton, Grammy Award winning singer, who received the Presidential Award for Emerging Young Leaders for his work to raise awareness of the growing number of African-American children in the foster care system.

Wendell Pierce, accomplished actor who appeared in HBO dramas such as “The Wire” and “Tremé,” received the Presidential Award for Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability for his work to reconstruct Pontchartrain Park in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He was also cited for his work to alleviate the food desserts in New Orleans and raise awareness of food desserts across the nation.

“I am so appreciative to the AKA’s for honoring us with their Presidential Award during their 66th National Convention,” said Caldwell. “Words cannot express the impact JCSU’s Foster Care Initiative continues to have on the larger community.” 

More information about JCSU’s Foster Care Initiative may be found at

About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

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