We lift as we climb

George Mason University’s College of Science aims to provide an accessible and inclusive education to students of all backgrounds. The college proudly partners with the Bernie L. Bates Foundation to support this mission through the foundation’s scholarships and mentorship programs.

Enhancing the general welfare of Fairfax, VA citizens lies at the heart of the foundation’s mission. In 1995, members of the Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. established the Bernie L. Bates Foundation to provide philanthropic support for the local community by way of scholarships, donations, mentorship, educational opportunities, and programs for senior citizens.

“The organization’s relationship with Mason happened naturally with the presence of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity on campus,” said Foundation President Richard Morris.

Foundation Vice President Jerome “Duke” Haggins added “an interest in STEM lays at the core of the organization, with one of our own founders serving as a biology professor at Howard University.”

This foundation and Mason’s alumni chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. together created the Bernie L. Bates and Psi Alpha Alpha Chapter Scholarship Endowment in 2017 to support undergraduate students at Mason seeking a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Preference for the awards is given to applicants from underrepresented populations. Several students received $1,000 scholarships since its inception, including many from the College of Science.

The organization sponsors several scholarships and educational opportunities annually, including the I Believe I Can Fly program that financially supports young men and women interested in aviation. This past year, the foundation continued to provide scholarships, supported COVID-19 first responders, hosted high school essay contents and talent hunts, and donated to numerous charities. For more information visit www.blbinc.org.

“We’re fundamentally about serving our community,” Morris explained. “For many of us we’ve been blessed and believe in reflecting our own success in the work that we do and the service we provide. The idea is that in doing so, we share with the greater community that effort and as a result we collectively grow; We lift as we climb.”

In the coming year, the Bernie L. Bates Foundation will continue to expand its presence on Mason’s campus to elevate opportunity in Fairfax County. The group looks to coordinate an on-campus recognition event that identifies foundation and community members making a positive impact in the Fairfax area while seeking to grow partnerships that support individuals in achieving their educational goals.

“We are excited to expand our partnership with the Bernie L. Bates Foundation,” said College of Science Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm. “They are an exceptional group of individuals who have come together to make a difference in their community.”

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