The Ray Charles Foundation has made an investment in the future, donating $1 million to fund a new neurosurgery scholarship program at Cedars-Sinai.
Under the direction of Keith L. Black, MD, chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery, scholarship recipients will receive personalized, mentored research training from Cedars-Sinai’s neurosciences faculty members while conducting their own research projects.
“This generous gift allows us to create a program, the Ray Charles Foundation Scholars Fund in Neurosurgery, that will help us invest in the future,” Black said. “We hope that these scholars will continue to give back to their communities.”
The scholarship program will accept one or two MD or PhD students to participate in the program every year. The scholars then will be matched with a principal investigator who will provide mentorship, guidance and career-development advice. Scholars also will be able to access the day-to-day resources and training that they need as they carry out their research projects.
“The knowledge and insight these scholars will gain through this experience will help prepare them to serve as the healers, scientists and thought leaders of tomorrow,” Black said.
The Ray Charles Foundation Scholars Fund in Neurosurgery aims to promote representation and enhance diversity in the neurosciences by supporting the training of students who come from underrepresented backgrounds, with a focus on historically black colleges and universities.
Valerie Ervin, president of The Ray Charles Foundation, says that the goal is to create a training pipeline that helps shape the careers of future leaders in the field of neuroscience.
“It is an honor, on behalf of The Ray Charles Foundation and its board of directors, to partner with Cedars-Sinai and Dr. Black in shaping the future for the next generation in science and medicine through The Ray Charles Foundation Scholars Fund in Neurosurgery,” Ervin said. “The mentorship and teaching in this program in the name of Ray Charles are immeasurable and will set the tone for the next generation of doctors.”
Legendary singer and songwriter Ray Charles (1930–2004) gave a gift to Cedars-Sinai about 15 years ago to name the Ray Charles Cafeteria and Conference Center to convey his appreciation for the care he received at the medical center. Founded in 1986, The Ray Charles Foundation continues in the legacy of its founder by supporting philanthropic programs in music, education and healthcare.