On November 12, 1999, Ryan Odelle Mance’s young life was taken at the hands of another African American male. During the search for Ryan’s murderer, his mother, Patricia Daniels, established a reward fund. Of the $10,000 offered for any person with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for Ryan’s murder, an anonymous donor made a $5,000 contribution. In 2005 when Patricia closed the reward fund, the anonymous donor asked if she would like to donate the money in Ryan’s name to some other cause.
In 2005 with a heartfelt desire to continue Ryan’s memory, to help others accomplish what Ryan started, to share the donor’s good deed, to do one small thing to benefit the community, and to address the needs of African American male students, Patricia started, with the funds from the anonymous contributor, an educational scholarship fund at Laurel High School. In 2007, Patricia had the vision to expand the scholarship to reach more students and provide more financial assistance. With that, on March 15, 2008, the Ryan Odelle Mance Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Incorporated was started with an initial meeting of solicited participants. Those participants became the Founding Board of Directors.
As the Board developed the Foundation’s strategic plan, it found that social trends underscored the need to expand scholarships to reach more students and to provide more financial assistance. For example:
- According to a 2007 report by Alcorn State University, resource issues served as a challenge for higher education for the African American male student. Finances were a make-it or break-it issue.
- A March 2009 feature in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education stated that according to a study by Nellie Mae, the largest nonprofit provider of federal and private education loan funds in this country, 69 percent of African Americans who enrolled in college but did not finish said that they left college because of high student loan debt as opposed to 43 percent of white students who cited the same reason.
And, the Board of Directors noted that it would take the collective efforts of individuals, corporations and established education focused foundations as well as new foundations to help change the social trends and the lives of our African American male students.
The Ryan Odelle Mance Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Incorporated desires to help change lives and improve opportunities for young determined and gifted African American males. Access to leadership mentoring and higher education is the key.