88Nine Radio Milwaukee

College senior starts scholarship fund for disadvantaged students

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Meet 22-year-old Jerel Ballard

Jerel Ballard is anything but unambitious.

In fact, at 22 years old, he already has accomplished as much as someone might in the span of a professional career.

Milwaukee native Jerel Ballard, 22, founder of Milwaukee’s Finest Scholarship Foundation.

In addition to interning both on Capitol Hill and in Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s office, Ballard started his own scholarship fund to benefit Milwaukee high school students entering college.

Milwaukee’s Finest Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to students up to $1,000 to help with incidental costs like transportation or books, and it is geared toward those who come from disadvantaged situations.

And in many ways, it helps students who share some of Ballard’s experiences.

When he began his college career, he was met with financial challenges. ┬áBallard himself received scholarships to attend Colombia College in Chicago — nearly $40,000 worth. ┬áBut after completing his first semester, he discovered he was $5,000 in debt to the institution.

Unable to come up with the cash, he was faced with a decision: drop out or find another way to finance his education.

He chose the latter.

Click the player below to find out how Ballard stayed in school and for more about his scholarship.

Milwaukee’s Finest is currently accepting new applications for the 2018/2019 school year.

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2018.