Pinelake Church, civil rights icon Dr. John M. Perkins create endowed scholarship at Jackson State University

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University is the recipient of a $200,000 donation from Pinelake Church in partnership with the Perkins Foundation. The funds will be used to create the John and Vera Mae Perkins Scholarship at JSU to help economically disadvantaged men and women obtain a college education. The contribution will be matched by Title III funds bringing the endowment to $400,000.

The John and Vera Mae Perkins Scholarship, established at JSU, will provide those in need the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

We’re very appreciative of this gift from Pinelake Church and the Perkins Foundation for so much more than just the dollar amount. It’s about what this scholarship represents and what it symbolizes; a coming together of individuals who work toward the greater good and continuing that work through our students,” said Thomas K. Hudson, president of JSU.

“Dr. Perkins has built his life on people coming together, and this scholarship is a culmination of that. I’m honored that Jackson State was chosen as the vessel for his vision and mission.”

Dr. John M. Perkins, community leader, civil rights activist, and best-selling author, speaks passionately about his life of service, faith, and the importance of giving back. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

Named for Dr. John M. Perkins, a minister, civil rights activist, best-selling author, and community developer, and his wife, Vera Mae, the Perkins Scholarship is specifically designed for students in need of financial assistance who are likely the first in their family to attend college, and who demonstrate good character.

“It’s an honor to partner with my friend and Christian brother Dr. Perkins. Our shared faith is the foundation and inspiration for creating this scholarship,” said Dr. Chip Henderson, senior pastor of Pinelake Church. “I heard recently that ‘if we live lives of generosity, others can live lives of opportunity’ and that is what we want to be a part of.”

Dr. Chip Henderson, left, senior pastor of Pinelake Church, Dr. John M. Perkins, and Thomas K. Hudson, president of Jackson State University. (Photo by Charles A. Smith/JSU)

The Perkins Scholarship was formed as a way to cultivate the next generation of leaders who are interested in the improvement of their local communities. It is “meant to be an example of how love wins, how unity overcomes history,” said Priscilla Perkins, co-president of the Perkins Foundation.

“We are truly blessed by this partnership with Pinelake Church,” continued Perkins. “Our hope is this initial endowment grows immeasurably and changes countless lives through education and spiritual enrichment.”

Drs. John and Vera Mae Perkins have a long history of self-sacrifice in helping others achieve better lives. In 1960, the couple left a successful life in California and returned to Mendenhall, Miss., to begin living out a new holistic principle. Within 12 years, Dr. John Perkins helped start one of Mississippi’s first Head Start Programs, youth programs, cooperative farm, thrift store, housing repair ministry, a health center, and an adult education program. The couple also organized their communities during the Civil Rights era with marches, community action, and brave stands in their own personal lives. In 1976, Dr. Perkins published “Let Justice Roll Down,” which has been named by Christianity Today as one of the top 25 most important books of the 21st Century.

Jackson State University was selected as the recipient of the Perkins Scholarship because of Dr. Perkins’ historical relationship with the university and in recognition of its many excellent academic programs that will benefit Perkins scholars. Though this scholarship is available through JSU, the hope is for it to be a model for other communities to create similar endowments that honor Dr. Perkins and invest in the next generation of local leaders.