Aside from maybe mumbo sauce, former Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is about the closest thing to God you’ll find in the DMV area. Since stepping down from his position three years ago, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has struggled to find the right way to honor Newsome’s legacy as one of the greatest NFL execs in the history of ever, as well as thank him for gift wrapping Lamar Jackson to the team on his way out the door.
According to ESPN, after much deliberation, that show of gratitude will take the form of the Ozzie Newsome Scholars Program, a $4 million gift in Newsome’s name that will be awarded to Baltimore City Public Schools graduates who opt to attend the HBCU of their choice in the state of Maryland.
“It gives me this great feeling for the next 30 years that I’m going to be running into accomplished people all over Baltimore and Maryland and they’re going to introduce themselves as Ozzie Newsome Scholars,” Bisciotti told ESPN. “It’s like I’m planting a seed that will flourish.”
Newsome has always preferred to stay in the shadows, so Bisciotti knew that just about any other attempt to honor the former Cleveland Browns tight end would be rebuffed. So considering Newsome’s admiration for HBCUs—all of his elementary school teachers up to the fifth grade graduated from historically Black universities, both of his daughters did the same, and his brother played at Alabama A&M—the 65-year-old had no choice but to accept such a gracious gift in his name.
“To this day, I still don’t have words to describe how I felt when he told me that,” Newsome told ESPN. “It’s such a gracious thing that [Bisciotti] and [his wife] Renee are doing. It still hasn’t resonated with me today because it has such a far-reaching impact on those students and the community of Baltimore.”
Per ESPN, here’s how the scholarships will be awarded:
The Stephen and Renee Bisciotti Foundation will present a $1 million gift to each of Maryland’s four HBCUs: Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Each spring, each of the four HBCUs will select five City Schools’ graduates as Ozzie Newsome Scholars for the incoming freshman class.
Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, 20 new freshman scholars will be selected every year for four years, producing a total of 80 Ozzie Newsome Scholars throughout the course of the program.
With the Ozzie Newsome Scholars program, students will receive an annual college scholarship of $10,000 for up to five years of college, for a total investment of up to $50,000 per scholar. The Bisciotti Foundation will donate an additional $400,000 to the CollegeBound Foundation to fund the Newsome Scholar’s participation in the College Completion Program, bringing the Bisciotti Foundation’s total gift to $4.4 million.
“Throughout his entire life, Ozzie has inspired and uplifted everyone around him with his leadership, humility, and determination,” Bisciotti said. “We hope that Ozzie’s example will inspire each of the Newsome Scholars.”
Bisciotti’s $4 million gift is the latest example of the Ravens’ commitment to bolstering education in the city of Baltimore. Previously, the team has spent millions on everything from uniform donations to school renovations in its efforts to invest in both students and the schools that provide them with a blueprint for future success.
This is the perfect way to honor someone who means so much to the city of Baltimore, and as HBCUs continue to gain prominence in the public eye, hopefully other schools will receive similar support and recognition.