Anonymous donor promises college tuition to athletes with straight A’s

An anonymous donor has helped make some students’ runaway college costs disappear. The donor created a scholarship three years ago to help motivate Black football players at a Georgia high school to get straight A’s.

Jordan Barbas and Evan Walker, recent graduates of Centennial High School, said the money had the intended effect.

“I was like, it’s real?” Barbas said of the scholarship, adding that he would not have been an A-student without it.

“Money talks,” Walker added. “Money can really change the way you view life.”

The school’s athletic director, Jeff Burch, said the donor pledged $1 million the first year. “If the kids earn it, he wants to give it,” Burch said.

The money is not just a game-changer, “it’s a life-changer,” Burch said.

Every high school semester with straight A’s is worth $25,000. Three Centennial alums who are now in college earned between $150,000 and $200,000. The money put college within reach for them. The players get reminders to hit the books from their coaches and parents.

Walker had three straight-A semesters, earning $75,000 for college. Barbas had two with perfect grades, getting $50,000.

The mystery man signing the checks prefers to stay anonymous, Burch said. “It’s about the kid earning it and the kids taking advantage, and not him giving the money. You know, celebrate that,” Burch said.