THANKS FOR INCLUDING ALL—Frank Coonelly, Pittsburgh Pirates Team president, excepts the Career Achievement in Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award from Chuck Cooper III, president and founder of the Chuck Cooper Foundation, during their 4th Annual Awards Luncheon. (Photo by Diane Daniels)

The Chuck Cooper Foundation, during its 4th Annual Awards Luncheon kept up its tradition of awarding graduate level college scholarships to underserved students.

During the luncheon, held at the Lexus Club at PNC Park, seven Duquesne University students were awarded $20,000 worth of scholarship assistance. Awardees included Bernandie Jean, a PhD candidate in computational chemistry; Talia Kirkland, a broadcast journalism student; Ciarra Lewis, an early childhood elementary education student; Chaquinta McCray, a political science/forensic humanities student; Juel Smith, who is working toward a doctorate in instructional technology and leadership; Taylor Price, a pharmacy student; and Tahirah Walker, a rhetoric PhD candidate.

Frank Coonelly and the Pittsburgh Pirates Organization received the Career Achievement in Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award.  Officials of CCF site the African-American Heritage Weekend, the Jackie Robinson Art Essay and Poetry Contest, their annual Latino Night reception, Disability Awareness Night and the Reviving Baseball inner Cities program as examples of the Pirates commitment to diversity.

Dedicated to honoring the legacy of Chuck Cooper, the first African-American drafted in the NBA and a Duquesne University and Westinghouse High School basketball star, the CCF was established in 2011. Its mission is to award graduate-level scholarships and provide comprehensive leadership development, professional skills and opportunities to underserved students.

“Our goal is to propel our students to success in higher education in order to achieve their highest potential in their careers and ultimately, in life,” said Chuck Cooper III, president and founder of the organization. During the luncheon he announced that the National Basketball Association has pledged their support towards the CCF and Cooper’s legacy.

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