MIAMI – The Miami Dolphins announced graduating senior Valicia Browne as the inaugural recipient of the Project Change Scholarship. The Project Change Scholarship, part of a yearly fund for advocacy and social justice programs created by Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and Miami Dolphins players, identifies one high school student each year and will pay for their tuition to college over a four-year period. The goal of the scholarship is to target students to impact their lives, so they can make a change in their community.
"When we launched the Football Unites: Project Change Scholarship last December, the vision was to empower youth to make a real impact in our community. We are fortunate to have an owner in Stephen Ross and players that are committed to making these transformational changes," Dolphins Senior Vice President of Communications & Community Affairs Jason Jenkins said. "The work Valicia is doing and aspires to continue is a shining example of working to better humanity. We're excited to share in this next chapter with her as she embarks on what will be a bright future in college."
The Project Change Scholarship, part of a yearly fund for advocacy and social justice programs created by Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and Miami Dolphins players, identifies one high school student each year and will pay for their tuition to college over a four-year period.
Valicia, a graduating senior from Olympic Heights Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, carries a 4.2 GPA and plays tennis. She has a goal to establish medical clinics to provide affordable health care in underserved communities and has been accepted to Florida State University for Fall 2018. In addition, Valicia is looking forward to working with civil rights/social justice groups in Tallahassee throughout college.
"It's really incredible, I never thought I would be in this position that I am. It speaks to the impact the Miami Dolphins make in the community. They are really hands on with improving the community. With this scholarship, I will be going to Florida State and I look to make an impact in Tallahassee in terms of volunteering at the various non-profit organizations," Valicia said. "Growing up, I'm originally from Brooklyn, my parents and I would always go to homeless shelters and feed those in need. Just seeing their faces light up for a hot plate of food that they would not normally have really inspired me to continue to put smiles on people's faces."
The scholarship was launched by the Miami Dolphins in December 2017. Applicants needed to maintain a GPA of 3.0, complete at least 40 hours a community service a semester in social justice programs, write an essay on what change they want to see in the community and how the scholarship will achieve that change as well as be accepted into a community college or university.
Through Football Unites, the organization has created opportunities for South Florida-based groups to strengthen and expand their impact around community engagement, education and justice reform. The team chose 11 recipients to receive Football Unites grants for the 2018 season. This diverse set of recipients includes Art Detectives, Community Justice Project, Inc., Miami Gardens Police Department, National Organization of Black Law Executives South Florida Chapter (NOBLE), North Miami Police Athletic League, North Miami Beach Police Athletic League,Pridelines, SAVE, Trayvon Martin Foundation, Urban League of Broward County and YWCA Miami.
The grant recipients come on the heels of Stephen Ross and the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Projectannouncement of a long-term partnership, centering on social justice, education and police and youth relations. The cornerstones of the partnership are the 5000 Role Models Police and Youth Conference and a College Academic Signing Day for Wilson Scholars at Hard Rock Stadium. In addition, the Dolphins will continue pre-existing programs with the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project and amplify new events. In all, these social justice community initiatives will impact more than 10,000 Role Models.
These initiatives are in addition to Dolphins previous work in this space through the team's collaboration with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). Founded and created by Ross in Oct. 2015, RISE harnesses the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. To learn more about RISE, visit risetowin.org.