Rams honor Kenny Washington scholarship recipients

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – Kenny Washington broke the NFL’s color line much the same way that Jackie Robinson integrated Major League Baseball. Washington’s historical moment in the sun, however, came a year earlier than when Robinson made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The team that signed Washington was the Los Angeles Rams. And so to continue to honor Washington and his legacy, the Rams have established the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship.

With that in mind, the Rams honored and welcomed 13 high academic achievers as beneficiaries of that scholarship to the Fulfillment Fund’s Sip & Celebrate event at SoFi Stadium on May 5.

“We want to be a resource. We want to position ourselves to help further education but also create pathways that everyone has access to so that zip codes won’t be a barrier,” said Johnathan Franklin, director of Social Justice and Football Development with the Rams.

May 5, 2022. Johnathan Franklin, director of Social Justice and Football Development with the Los Angeles Rams, hangs out with Rampage and members of the Los Angeles Rams Cheerleaders. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

From his own humble roots, Franklin knows the importance of the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship and what it means to the students. Franklin played high school and attended Dorsey High School in South Los Angeles before moving on to become a star football player at UCLA.

He played briefly in the NFL. What he does now far outweighs what he did on the football field. In his current role with the Rams, Franklin sees this as an opportunity to make a difference.   

“When you think of the scholarship and today, [we’re] honoring 13 recipients; first generation, you know, first in their family, one of few in their community to go to college, is powerful,” Franklin said. “At the Rams, we want to be a resource. We want to break barriers and show that zip codes is not a limitation to access and opportunity. The scholarship does that, you know. It opens that door. It creates a pathway. As a first-generation [college student] myself, I understand the power that this does for not just siblings and cousins, but for the entire community rallying around all 13 of these recipients.”

May 5, 2022. Fulfillment Fund’s Sip & Celebrate event at SoFi Stadium. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Donte Lewis is one of those recipients. On his way to Northeastern University, the King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science senior said the scholarship makes attending college more realistic for him.

“It is making college a more possible goal for kids in this neighborhood,” Lewis said. “With college being unaffordable, this scholarship is helping me close that gap.”

Funded by the Rams Foundation, the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship is offered through the Fulfillment Fund.

To qualify for the scholarship, students must have had a minimum of 2.0, be accepted and enrolled at a university or college, be first generational and reside in the neighboring communities of Watts, South Los Angeles, Compton, East Los Angeles, and downtown Los Angeles.

Students attending and are enrolled in a four-year university or college would receive $5,000 per year for four years. This sum equates to $20,000 over the life of the scholarship. If the student attends and is enrolled at a community college, they would receive $2,000 each year for two years.

May 5, 2022. Michaela Pereira (left) with Fulfillment Fund CEO Joanne Reyes. Photo by Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

The 13 students who were named as the recipients of the Kenny Washington Memorial Scholarship were: (Four-year scholarship winners) Donte Lewis, King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science; Dulce Paz, Theodore Roosevelt High School; Coco Li, Downtown Magnet High School; De’Ja Gordon, City Honor Preparatory Academy; Destiny Rojas, Robert F. Kennedy, UCLA Community School; Katherine Hernandez, Theodore Roosevelt High School; Ivan Gallegos, Theodore Roosevelt High School; Natalie Cortez, Animo Leadership Charter High School; Evan Lo, Abraham Lincoln High School; Michelle Valencia, Lennox Mathematics Science and Technology Academy. (Two-year scholarship winners): Kenneth Gonzalez, Downtown Magnet High School; Jose Velasquez, Animo Leadership Charter High School; Anjaneth Zarate, Jordan High School.