FORT KNOX, Ky. (October 4, 2012) --The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is trying to help the U.S. Army find the next Colin Powell.
That's the pitch from the national organization that provides scholarships to students attending public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which for the first time is highlighting the benefits of U.S. Army ROTC scholarships.
"The HBCUs provide a great pipeline of really talented, academically and physically talented, individuals who are interested in serving their country," said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "This is the first time we have told students that not only is the Army an option, but the Army actually wants you."
The Army strives to maintain a force representative of our nation's diversity, reflecting a belief that all American citizens have equal obligation to provide for the national defense, according to the 2010 report "Blacks in the U.S. Army -- Then and Now."
"We are delighted to be working with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in this effort," said Col. Mike Armstead, chief marketing officer for U.S. Army Cadet Command. "In this way, greater numbers of top quality students will benefit from the unmatched leader development opportunities available through Army ROTC and ultimately serve our nation as officers."
Currently, the active Army's ranks are 20-percent black, compared to 13.6-percent of the general population. And 13-percent of its officer corps is black, which is higher than in the general population ages 25 to 54 with a bachelor's degree, 9-percent of which is black.
The percentage of newly commissioned officers who are black has remained steady at around 10-percent since 2006. Fourteen percent of cadets enrolled for the Army ROTC class of 2016 are black.
Army ROTC does not award scholarships based on race -- candidates recommended by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund still must compete and qualify for possible incentives the same as all other students.
The agreement between Army ROTC and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is in a pilot stage in three markets -- New York City, Los Angeles and Richmond-Petersburg, Va. Criteria for consideration by the TMCF include an SAT score of 1260 or ACT score of 27, a 3.7 high school cumulative grade-point average and a varsity letter or equivalent athletic achievement.
"Most of the students TMCF works with are aware that the Army is looking for enlisted members, but few know that the Army recruits professionals in nearly every field," Taylor said.
Students who complete ROTC and receive two, three or four-year scholarships also know they have a job immediately after graduation. Army ROTC awards living stipends that eliminate the need for college jobs that can siphon focus away from studies. These benefits could be attractive at a time when the national unemployment rate continues to hover above 8-percent, and one-quarter of borrowers owe more than $28,000, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
"Oftentimes when you take a job in corporate America, you know you'll stay and get experience and then move on," Taylor said. "If you come to the Army, you can make it a career, travel the world, and serve the country. It's a really good long-term career option that gets rid of career uncertainty."
Students interested in learning more about ROTC can visit or call 1-888-550-ARMY. Students interested in talking to a recruiter to learn more about the TCMF Army ROTC Program can visit