Oliver Scholars, a nonprofit preparing high-achieving African-American and Latino students for success at the nation’s best independent schools and colleges, celebrated their 4th annual Gala Wednesday evening. The gala was a huge success raising more than $450,000. The event was held on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at the IAC Building located at 533 West 18th Street in New York City. The organization honored Ryan Speedo Green, a renowned Bass-Baritone who recently returned to the Metropolitan Opera in the iconic Zeffirelli production of La Boheme, and who embodies Oliver Scholars’ ethos of transformation through high-level achievement. Lynda Baquero of NBC 4 New York served as Master of Ceremonies. The event also honored the Oliver Scholars graduating class of 2017.
“I am humbled to have received this year’s Oliver Scholars Champion of Excellence Award. Now more than ever we need to unite to support and celebrate the accomplishments of African-American and Latino students who hold themselves and their work to a high standard,” said Ryan Speedo Green, Recipient of Champion of Excellence Award.
Year after year, the Oliver Scholars Gala brings together over 250 philanthropists, fashion moguls and business executives for an evening celebrating the power of education to change lives. With the funds raised by the Gala, Oliver Scholars offers African-American and Latino students comprehensive classes and workshops that prepare them to apply for, and attend, top independent schools and colleges around the U.S. Support continues post-placement with academic tutoring, one-on-one counseling, college readiness workshops, and college admissions guidance. This year’s graduating class of 2017 exemplifies Oliver’s principles of Scholarship, Leadership, and Service, and the evening celebrated their many accomplishments, including three special student awards to Andrew Richards, Tahrieq Koonce, and Krystal Ramirez.
“It may take a village to raise a child, but it requires a community like Oliver to help raise up our future leaders. For me, becoming part of the Oliver Scholars program is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve not only developed academically, but I‘ve also begun to take leadership within my home and school community. I am truly blessed to have been part of this wonderful journey with Oliver,“ said Andrew Richards, Oliver Scholars Class of 2017.
“I am thrilled to be celebrating the accomplishments of our students as well as the remarkable achievements of our honoree. Because philanthropists have recognized the important and effective work of Oliver Scholars, the organization is in a period of rapid growth and expansion. The Gala is an opportunity to witness and support the work of the organization first-hand,” said Dorothea B. Schlosser, Chair, Board of Trustees.
Praised by the New York Times for his “robust voice,” bass-baritone Speedo Green is an artist of international demand at the world’s leading opera houses. Mr. Green’s inspiring personal story demonstrates the role highly selective programs like Oliver Scholars play in nurturing and cultivating the full potential of youth of color motivated to work hard toward elite achievement. Recently, New York Times journalist Daniel Bergner published Sing for Your Life: A Story of Race, Music, and Family, which tells of Mr. Green’s personal and artistic story of struggle and support: from a trailer park in southeastern Virginia, to a juvenile facility, to the Met stage.
The 2016 – 2017 season sees Green’s return to the Metropolitan Opera as Colline in La Boheme, as well as Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail at Houston Grand Opera, among several engagements. A native of Suffolk, Virginia, Mr. Green received a Master of Music degree from Florida State University, a Bachelor of Music degree from the Hartt School of Music, and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Emmy-award winning Baquero is NBC 4 New York’s consumer reporter. Lynda’s “Better Get Baquero” segments resolve consumer complaints and provide updates on the latest consumer alerts. Baquero is also host of the long-running series “Visiones” which highlights issues that affect the Hispanic community by presenting informative conversations with newsmakers, community leaders and celebrities. Baquero was the recipient of a 1998 local Emmy Award for “Religious Programming” for her coverage of the Pope’s visit to Cuba, and a 2006 Emmy award for “Best Evening Newscast” with Chuck Scarborough.
Fluent in Spanish and French, Baquero is a graduate of New York University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism.
“Last night’s event was sensational. So many came out to support Oliver’s students and the promise they hold. With their time, interest and donations, guests at this year’s event put themselves squarely behind the issue of educational access and equity. ,” said David Allyn, CEO.
About Oliver Scholars:
Oliver Scholars prepares high-achieving African-American and Latino students for success at the nation’s best independent schools and colleges. Oliver identifies talented New York City students and places them at top schools with robust financial aid. The Oliver experience includes up to ten years of one-on-one support, after-school and summer coursework, and pre-career training.
Oliver Scholars, a Gold Level GuideStar nonprofit organization, is distinctive among access programs for its commitment to providing transition support for the whole family, developing students’ social-emotional skills, and instilling an ethos of giving back. Nearly 90 percent of Oliver alumni have attended U.S. News & World Report top 100 colleges, and over 30 percent have attended Ivy League institutions. Since its founding in 1984, Oliver Scholars has graduated over 1,100 students.
By removing economic and social barriers to achievement, Oliver Scholars helps gifted, underserved students achieve their potential as next generation change-makers, thought-leaders and trailblazers. For more information, visit oliverscholars.org.