LEAP Foundation DC is excited to award annual scholarship to Rashard Barnes

LEAP Foundation DC is pleased to announce Rashard Barnes as the recipient of this year’s Eleanor Holmes Norton Scholarship. Barnes is a junior at KIPP DC College Preparatory. The scholarship recognizes a student who, in the face of adversity, has continued on the path to higher education.

Barnes, 17, not only has been recognized as an honor roll student at the prep school that aims at developing “the knowledge, skills and character need to become thoughtful, intentional citizens in the competitive world,” but he has done so with a diagnosed learning disability. Working through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), Barnes made it his goal early on that he would not allow the learning difference to hinder his progress.

“As the oldest child, I also know that I have two younger brothers that are watching me,” he said. “I strive to give them a positive image (of which) to aspire.”

He lives his life committed to being an example of hope, volunteering for his church, St. Michael’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, and its “Warm Nights” program. The church houses groups of homeless individuals and families, providing meals and evening activities, such as game nights.

“I enjoy volunteering, as it allows me to meet great people and create lasting memories,” Barnes said.

He also is an avid basketball player, taking the court for both his high school and church through the Mil-Net Youth Basketball team. It was there that he was awarded the Leadership and Most Valuable Player Trophy. He has enjoyed alternative sports, as well.

This is a young man who is an incredible model of the LEAP Foundation DC mission: “To bridge the gap between hope and achievement,” said Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO of the nonprofit organization.

“Rashard demonstrates an amazing amount of drive and dedication in all that he does,” Dr. Lawrence said. “Whether it’s providing freelance photography for his school, overcoming challenges in learning abilities, volunteering to help the Washington, D.C., community or on the basketball court for his high school and church, he is a young man who is truly an inspiration.”

Barnes joined Dr. Lawrence just a few months ago for the last eight miles of the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon. As a mentee of the LEAP program, students are encouraged to participate in physical activity as a way to not only stay physically and mentally fit, but to push through challenges to experience achievements.

“It was a truly special opportunity to have Rashard join me for the race,” Dr. Lawrence said. “It was the longest distance he had ever completed and he was able to run for a meaningful cause while enjoying the feeling of pushing through to the finish line to experience a sense of accomplishment. That is what the LEAP mission is all about and I have been so fortunate to be able to share my knowledge, passion and excitement not only for leading a healthy lifestyle, but also for learning.”

Barnes plans to major in sports management at Marshall University, where he’ll pursue a place on the basketball court, playing college-level basketball (and one day with a professional basketball league). But, more importantly, he looks forward to providing guidance, direction and inspiration for others who have faced or are facing similar struggles and disadvantages.

LEAP Foundation DC has awarded the $1,000 scholarship in support of Barnes’ plans to pursue higher education at Marshall University. The Foundation has committed to awarding the scholarship annually on behalf of DC residents in the name of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, in recognition of her tireless efforts as a stateswoman and a longstanding supporter of LEAP Foundation DC. This is the second scholarship named in her honor.