Increasing a scholarship inviting African American students to Fresno Pacific University reflects a renewed commitment by the university to a community under-represented in higher education in general and Christian higher education in particular.

Awards for FPU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. & Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship will be raised to $4,000 for students starting in fall 2020, and the scholarship is renewable up to four years. Begun in 2013, the scholarship is a partnership between Fresno Pacific University and several local congregations. “This scholarship supports African American students and raises awareness of FPU within the African American community,” said Taylor Starks, the admission counselor involved with King & Hamer. “We need to get across the message that Christian higher education is affordable and accessible.”

To be eligible for the King & Hamer Scholarship, students must:

  • Be admitted to a traditional undergraduate program at FPU
  • Be born in the United States of black, African American or African descent
  • Special consideration is given to students from a church in the West Fresno Ministerial Alliance, but all students meeting the criteria above are encouraged to apply.

Recipients say the scholarship builds confidence and provides opportunity. “Being a King & Hamer scholar is honestly really empowering to me because it makes me feel like I represent other black students here because we are just as capable as the dominant culture. I would tell a student that it has a lot of internal purpose and meaning and provides somewhat of a home/safe space for black students on campus. It is something that, if you are black on this campus, you need to be a part of,” said D.J. Maxwell Garcia.

“Besides providing financial security, I have been able to connect with people that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. It showed me that there’s other people like me that I could relate to and resonate with. I was able to see how open and nice people can actually be towards those they don’t really know yet. If presented with this opportunity again, I would still choose to grab it while I can,” said Elijah Gonzalez-Chandler.

The scholarship is named for civil right leaders Martin Luther King, Jr., and Fannie Lou Hamer. King was a pastor, activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner who used civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. Hamer was an American voting-rights activist, sharecropper and freedom fighter whose Christian faith was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She is known for saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

For more information or to register for the scholarship, go to


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations