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Howard University School of Law Announces Inaugural Cohort of Greene Public Service Scholars Program

Greene Scholars' Headshots
Howard University Greene Scholars, Tamia Beckles (upper left); Crystal Bush (upper right); Ashtyn DeWalt (lower left); Yvette Lopez (lower right).

WASHINGTON – Today, Howard University School of Law announced the inaugural four-person cohort of its Greene Public Service Scholars Program. Howard University was awarded a $10 million grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation for the creation and support of the Greene Public Service Scholars Program. The program, a partnership between the foundation and Howard law school, will support and cultivate exceptional law students committed to a career in public service law.

“Howard University School of Law is enormously thankful to the Jerome L. Greene Foundation for this grant to create the Greene Public Service Scholars Program,” said Danielle Holley-Walker, dean of the Howard University School of Law. “This gift, the largest in law school history, goes to the heart of Howard law’s mission to create a generation of new attorneys who are lawyer-leaders deeply committed to public service. We could not be happier with our first cohort of Greene Scholars, whose lives and careers will be transformed – students who chose Howard law because of our commitment to racial justice. These scholarships will relieve their student debt and allow them to comfortably pursue their careers in service to their communities.”

The Jerome L. Greene Foundation grant is an important part of the foundation’s Racial Equity Initiative, which invests in the future of American society by providing support to highly qualified Black lawyers committed to public service. Recipients of the Greene Public Service Scholars Program will receive a three-year, full-tuition scholarship. The program also will feature a full program on public interest law, including lectures and other programming as well as mentoring by prominent public interest lawyers. The Greene Scholars also will receive training through Summer placements at large law firms, such as Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison. Four students will receive the Greene Public Service Scholarship each year.

“On behalf of the entire Howard University community, I’d like to extend our sincere appreciation to the Jerome L. Greene Foundation for their generous, transformative $10 million gift to establish the Greene Public Service Scholars Program at Howard University School of Law,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “Howard law students train here for the nurturing, cultural experience and because they want to be of service to their community. However, expenses can be a barrier to pursuing critical careers in industries like public service. This gift will alleviate the financial burden for our future servant leaders who want to pursue passion over profit.”

“Our hope is that these funds help Howard University School of Law deepen its commitment to educating the best legal minds to work for underserved communities and fight for social justice,” said Chris McInerney, president and CEO of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation. “The Greene Public Service Scholars will acquire advocacy skills, public interest experience, and benefit from exposure to lawyers who have contributed to civil and human rights by deploying the law for positive social change.”

The grant will help to further address the need to expand the number of Black public interest lawyers. According to the American Bar Association, 5 percent of all attorneys across the U.S. are African-American. While many law students enter law school with the intent of pursuing careers in public interest lawyering, many change their minds over time, often because of the staggering price of a legal education. Even at an institution like Howard, where there is a commitment to keeping costs down, public interest salaries have failed to keep up with the increase in law school debt. According to a 2018 press release from the National Association of Law Placement, “… salaries for public service attorneys have risen modestly since 2004, but among attorneys working in civil legal services organizations, as public defenders or local prosecuting attorneys, or as attorneys in public interest organizations, those providing civil legal services have the lowest median entry-level salary, earn the smallest increases in salary based on experience, and have seen the slowest growth in salary levels over the past 14 years.” While median 2018 starting salaries in the private sector ranged from $90,000-$190,000, the median salary in the public sector is $48,000. After five years of practice, that median rises to $205,000 at law firms compared to $54,800 at public interest foundations.

“The generous gift of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation allows talented Howard law students to work in furtherance of their commitments to serving in the public interest and engaging in the fight for social justice,” said Carmia N. Caesar, assistant dean of career services at Howard University School of Law. “The greatest need for legal services is on behalf of individuals who rely on free or reduced cost legal services. These are precisely the attorneys that the Greene Public Service Scholars Program will produce. Without the foundation’s support, social justice careers become a privilege attainable only to students with the financial backing to emerge from college and law school without debt. The Greene Public Service Scholars Program returns this right to the passionate, dedicated social engineers who come to Howard University School of Law to advance the human condition.”

The inaugural Greene Scholars are below:

Ashley Tamia Dominique Beckles, from Baltimore, Maryland, is a rising 1L student entering Howard University School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and criminal justice with minors in violin performance and spanish languages and cultures from the University of Maryland.

Crystal Bush, from Pascagoula, Mississippi, is a rising 1L student entering Howard University School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Ashtyn DeWalt, from Houston, Texas, is a rising 1L student entering Howard University School of Law after earning a degree in history and a minor in French, concentrating on the intersections of law, gender and politics, from Baylor University.

Yvette Lopez, from Simi Valley, California, is a rising 1L student entering Howard University School of Law after earning a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the University of Southern California.

To read the full Green Scholar student bios and learn more about the Howard University School of Law, visit http://law.howard.edu/greene-public-service-scholarship-program.

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About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.

Media Contact: Misha Cornelius, misha.cornelius@howard.edu