For Immediate Release
December 23, 2022
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Hampton University Office of University Relations

(BPRW) Hampton University Announces Enhanced Partnership with Yale University, Creation of Pennington Fellowship

(Black PR Wire) Hampton, Va. —Hampton University announced today that it has entered into a collaborative partnership with Yale University, which has created the Pennington Fellowship. The new scholarship program will support New Haven public school students who choose to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The Pennington Fellowship will support 10 to 12 students in each college-bound cohort for four years, with each student receiving up to $20,000 toward tuition and fees per year. When fully implemented, 40 to 50 students will receive Pennington scholarships at any given time.

“We are grateful for Yale’s collaboration with Hampton University in creating new educational pathways for students of historically disenfranchised communities,” said Darrell K. Williams, Hampton University President. “The Pennington Fellowship opens doors for high-caliber students from New Haven, Connecticut to obtain a world-class education here at ‘Our Home by the Sea’ or at another partner HBCU.”

In addition to Hampton University, the Pennington Fellowship is established with Morehouse College, Morgan State University, and Spelman College. Yale will add to the number of eligible institutions as more partnerships are established.

The new scholarship bears the name of Reverend James W. C. Pennington, the first Black student to attend Yale. Born enslaved on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, he lived for 24 years as a fugitive before securing his freedom. Pennington was prevented from formally enrolling at Yale because of his skin color, but he audited classes at Yale Divinity School before continuing a noteworthy career as a minister, antislavery organizer, scholar, and speaker.

“This scholarship addresses, in part, historical disparities in educational opportunities for Black citizens,” Yale President Peter Salovey said Monday in an announcement to the Yale community. “It will be funded by Yale and administered by the New Haven Promise program, which the university co-founded in 2010 to put the dream of a college education within reach for young people in our home city who otherwise could not afford it.”

Despite living at a time when Black citizens were denied equality, Pennington pursued education for himself and others throughout a life lived with extraordinary courage. From 1828 to 1834, he hired teachers to tutor him in Greek and Latin and attended night school, all while working as a coachman in Brooklyn Heights and gaining prominence as a delegate at the first Colored Convention in Philadelphia. His legacy is bolstered by his work to write the first African American history textbook.  

The scholarship program is part of a broad initiative, known as Belonging at Yale, that aims to create a stronger and more inclusive university community. Belonging at Yale efforts enhance diversity, support equity, and promote an environment of welcome, inclusion, and respect.

Applicants for the scholarships must be seniors at a New Haven public high school, submit an essay, provide a letter of recommendation, and have participated in at least 40 hours of community service. Fellowship applications are currently being accepted; the first group of Pennington Fellows will begin college in the fall of 2023.

For more information, see the FAQ on the New Haven Promise website, or email to ask additional questions about the application process.