MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis father and business owner makes a difference, one scholarship after another. Three years after the Wilson Image College scholarship program started, Teto Wilson is still making an impact on the north side of town.
“My daughter is why I decided to start this scholarship program,” said Wilson. “As I watched her apply for various grants – some she got and some didn’t – I just decided,” What can I do to make sure our scientists, inner-city scientists, can get scholarships? “
The hairdresser and owner of Wilson’s Image Barbers and Stylists decided to start his own scholarship program. Wilson paid out the first scholarships himself and the idea quickly met with interest from the community. Entrepreneurs, customers and residents of the north side wanted to get involved.
“At first I planned not to collect donations. I just wanted to get it right out of my pocket, ”said Wilson. “Then it just started to grow organically.”
To date, the program has awarded 10 grants, each valued at $ 1,000. Among the youngest recipients is Ayo Olagbaju, a 2020 graduate of Patrick Henry High School.
“Youth today, we are the future of what the church will be,” said Olagbaju. “To have someone who sees who you already are and is willing to invest in that … it’s a great experience.”
Olagbaju is a freshman at Howard University in Washington, DC. She is studying remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her mother, Shana Moses, is a long-time resident of the north side of the city and said the scholarship program made sense.
“In the same streets that I walked on, in the same schools that I went to to see the exact same church, people are still streaming in … it just creates warmth inside,” said Moses. “I hope she holds on, you know, when things get tough – as life may do – that she still knows that there is a village, that there is a support network here that goes beyond consanguinity. “
Community support also made a difference for Alaja Miller, a freshman at the University of Minnesota – Mankato and Wilson Image College. The COVID-19 pandemic halted her plans to work and save money on college expenses.
“It made a huge difference because I had to pay most of my tuition out of pocket,” Miller said. “With contributions from my family and Teto, I was actually able to pay my tuition in full, without financial support, loans or the like.”
Wilson’s primary goal is to provide full scholarships for participating scientists in the future.
“I believe in people and I believe they believe in me,” said Wilson. “I’ve been in business here in North Minneapolis for 13 years. We have a powerful community.”
More information on the Wilson Image Scholarship Program can be found here.