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MLK Association of Asheville
"Our LIVES Begin To End The Day
We Become SILENT About Things That MATTER"
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Youth Awards & Scholarships

In late April the MLK Association honors area high school and middle school students who have demonstrated leadership, intellectual, and community engagement skills. In addition to receiving recognition awards, up to three students each year are awarded a scholarship to the university of their choice. View process and criteria information.

Application Deadline: Postmarked, email, or submitted online no later than April 24.

MLK Youth Scholarship Awards Ceremony

On the evening of June 1, the Martin Luther King Association of Asheville and Buncombe County held its annual College Scholarship Ceremony at Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Asheville campus. Fifteen students received scholarships that totaled a collective $50,000, the highest amount of scholarship money that the Association has ever awarded in a calendar year. Leronica Casey, the coordinator of scholarships and donor relations at A-B Tech, who is also the co-host of the No Limits radio show on WRES 100.7FM, provided a keynote speech. Dr. Oralene Simmons, the Martin Luther King Association’s president, handed out awards to the students.

Applicants were required to show how they emulate the dream and teachings of Dr. King by (a) exhibiting concern for disadvantaged or oppressed people, (b) showing evidence that they have participated in community, civic or school affairs, (c) explaining how they have promoted community betterment, and (d) demonstrating academic success in high school. According to Dr. Michael Dempsey, Martin Luther King Association Board Member and Scholarship Committee Chairperson, 2023 was a banner year for the program. “We had dozens of amazingly inspiring applicants,” he said, “and our team of judges had a very hard time narrowing the group down to 15 winners. The Association is overjoyed to help this year’s awardees pursue their educational and professional goals.”

The list below includes the names of the awardees, their high schools, the college that they’ve chosen to attend, and the amount of each scholarship.

  • Barfuo Boakye-Boaten (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville), who will attend NC A&T University ($8,500 scholarship)
  • Madilyn Deifell (Owen High School), UNC Chapel Hill ($5,000)
  • Doni Palma-Roberto (Asheville High School), UNC Chapel Hill ($5,000)
  • Janae Wofford (Nesbitt Discovery Academy), UNC Greensboro ($4,000)
  • Kaliyah Thomas (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville), Undecided (Spelman College, Salem College, or Albany College), $4,000)
  • Imani Bellamy (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville), UNC Charlotte ($4,000)
  • Tia Irby (Asheville High School), New York University ($3,000)
  • Harper Dechant (Asheville High), NC State University ($3,000)
  • Salvador Lopez (Asheville High), UNC Pembroke ($3,000)
  • Nancy Membreno (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville), UNC Chapel Hill ($2,000)
  • Daijah Elliott (School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville), UNC Charlotte ($2,000)
  • Mia McMurry (Owen High School), Meredith College ($2,000)
  • Julia Givens (Owen High School), UNC Chapel Hill ($1,500)
  • Briana Gee (Reynolds High School), NC A&T University ($1,500)
  • Kasiyah Byrd (Asheville High School), UNC Greensboro ($1,500)

To find out more about the Martin Luther King Association’s Scholarship Program, go to, or email

Past Recipients

Download Application or Complete Online


Application Deadline – postmarked no later than April 24.
The applicant is responsible for supplying all materials required for consideration for the scholarship as one complete package.

Mail or email the application
Mail the completed application to:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship
P.O. Box 328
Asheville, NC 28802

or scan and email to


Application Deadline – Submit no later than April 24.
The applicant is responsible for supplying all materials required for consideration for the scholarship as one complete package.


How much are typical scholarship amounts?

The expected top scholarship amount could be as much as $10,000. Other top scholarship amounts could be $7,500 and $5,000, with lower scholarship awards being in the $1,500 to $2,500 range.

Are MLK scholarships renewable/recurring?

No. All scholarships will be awarded once.

Who is eligible to receive an MLK Scholarship?

Students must reside in Buncombe County and must be seniors in high school.

Where can the scholarships be used?

A student can apply his or her scholarship award to any two- or four-year college or university.

When will students be notified if they will receive a scholarship?

Students will be notified by May 1 whether or not they will receive a scholarship. Students who are awarded scholarships will be asked to attend an Scholarship Awards Ceremony held in mid-May (exact date to be determined).

Upon what criteria are students awarded scholarships?

Although academic success is examined by scholarship judges, the most important criteria are how the student demonstrates a commitment to forwarding Dr. King’s legacy through anti-racist activism, nonviolent protest, or community building. These criteria can be demonstrated through the student’s personal essay, as well as through his or her list of community accomplishments/activities and professional resume. They can also be indicated in the two letters of recommendation that are required with each application.

How are scholarship applications judged?

The scholarships are judged by a panel of five community members who have been selected by the Martin Luther King Association’s Board of Directors. Judges must be actively involved in social justice, educational, or anti-racism efforts in the community. Each judge receives a scoring rubric, and the scores are tallied by the Association’s College Scholarship Committee.

How is scholarship money awarded?

After a student enrolls into a college and receives a student ID number, the Association writes a check for the scholarship amount and mails it to the student’s college. The college will then put the money toward the student’s cost of attendance