In the wake of the Chicago Public Schools’ budget cut concerns, local organizations such as Stanley Coleman Jr. Productions LLC serve as a liaison in offering free arts and music workshops to local high schools. SCJR Productions kicked off its third annual Black History Month College Scholarship Drive fashion show on Saturday, Feb. 22, to raise money in order to award high school students with scholarships for their collegiate careers.
Kenwood Academy High School graduate and CEO of SCJR Productions LLC, Stanley Coleman Jr., said consistent support from his family and friends encouraged him to continuously organize the fashion show drive.
“My mother taught me at a young age that you can’t be what you don’t see and that has always resonated with me,” he said. “To have folks like Tyler Perry galvanize and support our dreams and vision for our future leaders of tomorrow here on the South Side of Chicago has been a humbling experience, and a prime motivating factor for me to wake up at 6, 7 in the morning, to hit the phones as hard as possible to provide scholarship opportunities [and] sponsorship opportunities.”
So far, the company has given away over 42 scholarships to high school students involved in arts and music programs, services that are usually affected the most from budget cuts.
At this year’s fashion show charity drive, SCJR Productions offered scholarships to two high school juniors and one senior, including a full ride to the University of California Los Angeles. Coleman interviewed and handpicked the students prior to the showcase, and presented the awards with his co-emcee, ABC7 Chicago anchor Samantha Chatman. The event was sponsored by a plethora of organizations, including the Black McDonald’s Operators Association, Riteway-Huggins Construction Services, Inc. and the Chicago Football Classic.
The student models, most with previous experience from performing at school fashion shows, strutted through the crowd of over a hundred people at the Promontory Saturday afternoon, rocking brands like Gabrielle Union’s New York and Company, Unique Apparel and Meagan Good’s GGW. This year’s models included participants from high schools such as Kenwood Academy, South Shore International and Hyde Park Academy.
During the second segment of the show, the models walked to Kobe Bryant’s remix to “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child, played by DJ Mile High from Chicago’s 107.5 WGCI-FM, as a tribute to the NBA legend.
Coleman also dedicated a segment of the event to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month by revisiting some of his famous speeches and highlighting his commitment to promote educational funding.
For King College Prep High School senior Kayla Jordan, winning a scholarship from SCJR Productions signified her path to financial freedom.
“I’m definitely going to use [the money] to go toward tuition, because my plan when I come out of college is to be debt free,” she said.