Impact Scholarship for Black Students

Funded by
Mechanism Ventures
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
May 11, 2021
Winners Announced
Jun 11, 2021
Education Level
Eligibility Requirements
African American
African American

Talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not.

Inequality of opportunity is pronounced in the Black community in everything from access to quality education, to safety from police brutality, to career progression, and much more.

Education is one of the most powerful determinants of access to opportunity, something we hope to bolster with these scholarship opportunities for Black students.

In an effort to build a more equitable country, the Mechanism Ventures team is funding 15 grants for Black students and recent graduates across a wide variety of fields where opportunity is not equal.

This scholarship will be awarded to a Black student who excels at dreaming big and starting small while building their vision for the future. Strong candidates will be extremely ambitious, driven, and talented.

Students across any field of study or education level are eligible to apply.

This scholarship is part of the Mechanism Ventures Impact Grants Series.

Diversity and Inclusion
Selection Criteria:
Impact, Drive
Essay Topic

Please tell us a bit about yourself. What do you hope to achieve in your life, and how are you preparing yourself to achieve it?

500–1000 words

Winning Application

Funmbi Okoya
Harvard CollegeBoston, MA
Growing up, I was a bright child who had dreams to help people and change the world. In college, I studied pharmacy, where I discovered my leadership qualities. I held several roles in my school’s student association before serving as the President, where we were able to rejuvenate the organization, implement positive change, and make history. It turned out to be one of the most fulfilling moments of my life. However, tragedy struck when I was diagnosed with multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) during my internship at a hospital in 2017. MDR-TB is a fatal form of TB that usually develops when TB patients do not complete their treatment, making the disease resistant to first-line drugs. Though I had never had TB, I was unlucky to have caught the resistant form. MDR-TB was treated for 20 months with second-line drugs that are more toxic and often experimental. The first eight months were at an isolation facility to prevent its spread. Treatment was then continued for one year after discharge. If the treatment failed, the patient would be at risk of developing totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB), a death sentence. I was shattered. I had to put everything on hold to fight for my life. I had never faced a challenge so great, yet I firmly believed that I could get through it as I had gotten through previous challenges. The eight months of isolation were the hardest for me. I had to take a painful injection every morning that became more painful as time passed due to injecting at or close to previous injection spots. For an extrovert like me who had lofty dreams, being “locked up” and watching life pass me by, broke me. All my life, I had always been able to make things happen. But this time was different. I could not make time go any faster, regardless of what I do. I was powerless against time, and that humbled me. But I persevered through it all, and eventually, I could finally go to complete my internship. It took strong determination for me to use my drugs every day for the remaining 12 months because I knew it was the drugs that were making me feel very sick and weakened. Often, I would look in the mirror and reaffirm that I needed to complete the treatment. And fortunately, I did. While surviving the disease, almost 6,000 pills and 240 injections was a miracle; I lost myself in the process. The new me had gotten so used to only surviving. One day, I saw pictures from when I was President, and tears rolled down my cheeks. I was but a shadow of whom I used to be. I knew something had to be done from that day, but I did not know what or how. Some weeks later, I came across a call for nominations for a youth pharmacy organization. Though I had held higher roles in the past, I figured this might be the opportunity I needed. I laid out a plan, applied for the top leadership position, campaigned actively, and won. With responsibilities back on my shoulders, I gave my all and flourished. In one year, I inspired my team to rebrand the organization, grow both membership and finances by 900%, secure strategic partnerships, and organize several impactful events. Six months after, I was nominated for my first ever international award and received the 2020 Diana Award, the most prestigious award for a young person’s social action and humanitarian work. Shortly after, an event we had organized received the 2020 International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Health Promotion Award. Towards the end of my tenure, I had begun exploring opportunities to study public health in the United States. I was lucky to get several admissions, but none offered sufficient funding to enable me to attend. I would not allow my humble beginnings to deter my education. Upon consulting others, many told me they had gotten similar admissions but could not attend because they could not afford it. Rather than accept my fate, I started to explore every means possible to pay for my graduate education, and I still do till date. I have applied to more scholarships than I can count and exhausted all loan options. Today, against all odds, I am studying and researching the disease that nearly took my life at the Harvard School of Public Health, and I hope to dedicate my life to eradicating it. No one should have to go through what I have experienced.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is May 11, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jun 11, 2021.

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