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How Jordan Brand Wings Shows the Transformative Cycle of Educational Opportunity

Jordan Brand Wings Scholars Program 0

Minyaun Miller (center) is presented a Jordan Wings class of 2023 scholarship by Debbie Ingram, Miller's community mentor from the partnering United Negro College Fund Portfolio Project.

High school senior Minyaun Miller was surrounded by her family and friends in her living room — but she had no idea why they had their phones ready to snap photos. That confusion changed to shock when around the corner walked her community mentor, Debbie Ingram, who glowingly presented her with a blue box. Inside was an incredible endowment: a full-ride college scholarship. Miller was officially a member of the Jordan Brand Wings Scholars Program.

“This scholarship changes everything for me,” says Miller, a native of Portland, Oregon, and daughter of a single mother. “I’ve never wanted to be a financial burden to my mom. For her to help with school on her own would be difficult. This scholarship just showed me that all my hard work is paying off.”

The moment was led by the Jordan Brand Wings Scholars Program, which is in its fifth year in providing full-ride scholarships to high-achieving students in North America and in Greater China. Michael Jordan himself closely identified with the power of education – he credits his teachers with instilling in him a confidence in the classroom that spilled onto the court and made it a priority to complete his college degree. Awarding 27 students in North America this year, the program represents his belief in education’s transformative good, pledging annual scholarships for deserving students.

“Seeing the recipients of the first class of Wings scholars graduate college this year is an honor," says Larry Miller, Chairman of the Jordan Brand Advisory Board. “Wings continues to be a legacy commitment and by creating an equal playing field for underserved youth through education and mentorship, the Wings program can help young people achieve greatness in their lives.”

How It Works:

  • Students are nominated by any of the 30 global partner organizations to the Jordan Brand Wings Scholars program.
  • The students then complete an application that identifies them as local leaders, showing an alignment with the partner organization's values, active participation through community service and more.
  • A funding gap must also exist at the post-secondary institution in which a student has been admitted, a gap that Wings alleviates.
  • A Jordan Brand committee reads the applications and determines the awardees.

Upon receiving the scholarships, the students set off on paths varying in study and subject. Johnny Brown, a high school senior from Chicago and a member of this year’s class, will major in bioengineering to eventually treat speech disorders, which he experienced as a child. Sincere Brannon, a recipient of the Wings Class of 2020 scholarship, is currently in Houston completing his third year of postsecondary art school. Xochill Ramirez, a member of the Class of 2022, wanted to stay close to her hometown in South-Central Los Angeles as she pursues teaching to provide access to education for minorities. Each cohort receives one-on-one mentorship by a Wings advisor and is exposed to internship opportunities with the Jordan Brand to help carry on their collegiate studies to completion.  

“My parents didn’t go to high school,” says Ramirez.” That’s why I chose education as a major; I want to help people who have gone from similar circumstances as me, who come from similar neighborhoods as I did.”

By erasing the burden of financial debt, students can pursue their study with boldness, full focus and clarity of intent. The access to opportunity crosses generations and borderlines with every new cohort; Ophelia Murray, one of the first Wings Scholars to graduate as part of the Class of 2019, is taking her last four years of experience to Thailand to become a kindergarten teacher, paying forward Jordan’s passion for education. As this year’s students begin their own stories in the Wings program, others will graduate from their university studies – lifted up with the full support of the Jordan family.

To learn more about the Jordan Wings program, click here. To download hi-res photos of the scholarship winners, click here.

Read More: Jordan Brand Community