MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new scholarship is giving young men specifically interested in trade school an opportunity to continue their education.

In partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Moore Tech and the founders of the Charles E. Howard Scholarship, Dr. Mario and Teresa Ray awarded their first scholarship to Jensen Woods.

Before enrolling at Moore Tech, Woods juggled a job, paying for very expensive classes at the University of Memphis and taking care of his dad. “I had to work (many) hour weeks to even afford UofM, and at that point, my father’s condition wasn’t getting any better,” said Woods.

His father passed last June, but Woods is devoted to carrying on his legacy. He says his father taught him the importance of taking care of his family. Right now, he is studying machining at Moore Tech while still working a job.

Now, classes are far more affordable thanks to Dr. Mario Ray. “I wanted to provide an opportunity for young men that look like me, with a chance to further their education in a trade and earn a good living for their families to provide for themselves,” said Ray.

He’s doing just that with the Charles E. Howard Memorial Scholarship Fund. Named after his late father-in-law, Dr. Ray co-founded the fund in the legacy of his wife’s dad.

“He didn’t have any boys, so he just took me right in and treated me like his son and started calling me his son, telling me he loved me every chance he had. Seeing how he handled his family left a strong impression on me,” said Ray.

That strong impression is now leaving a lasting impact. The $1,000 scholarship is helping students become tradesmen like Charles E. Howard, who was a flooring specialist.

“A lot of the prominent men in my life were all tradesmen. HVAC, plumbers, electricians, construction. To my knowledge, there wasn’t a lot of help for men to pursue those careers,” said Ray.

The scholarship is lightening the load for students like Woods. “I don’t feel entitled to anything, but to get it is good,” said Woods. A reminder that the values instilled by a father last a lifetime.

“Somebody helped me out. I want to be able to reach back and help someone else out,” said Ray. The scholarship is for the city’s highest at-risk bracket, young men between the ages of 16 and 21.

The young men must meet the following requirements:
Be enrolled as a high school senior or have obtained a GED or diploma from Memphis-Shelby County Schools

Demonstrate financial need 

Be accepted by or plan to attend an accredited vocational or technical school

To donate to the Charles E. Howard Memorial Scholarship, click here.