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Charles R. Drew University receives $1-million donation

June 05, 2013|By Carla Rivera
  • Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science held its 29th Commencement ceremony Saturday. The university received a $1-million donation from Joe Adams and his wife, Emma.
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science held its 29th Commencement… (Charles R. Drew University…)

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science has received a $1-million donation — the largest one-time individual gift in the school’s history — from the longtime manager of Ray Charles. The money will be used to fund student scholarships.

The donation comes from Joe Adams and his wife, Emma, and will establish the Adams Scholars, which will provide $10,000  to cover tuition for undergraduates based on their financial need.

“These funds will reinforce CDU’s commitment to serve talented students who may not otherwise be able to afford tuition and many of whom are the first in their families to go to college,” Drew President David M. Carlisle said in a statement.

Joe Adams grew up in Watts, near the Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles where Drew University is located.

“I wanted to give back to the neighborhood where I grew up, gained experience and met the many challenges in my life,” said Adams, 89.

In the 1940s, Adams was the first African American to host a prime-time radio show in Los Angeles. He hosted television programs and also worked as a film actor. In the late 1950s, a friend from his radio days, Ray Charles, asked him to join a tour and Adams went on to serve as the singer’s business manager until Charles’ death in 2004.

He headed the Ray Charles Corp. until his 2008 retirement and is chairman of the board of the Ray Charles Foundation.

Joe and Emma Adams are philanthropists who have also made gifts to Morehouse College and Spelman College in Atlanta. The couple were given the Board of Trustees Medal of Honor during Drew University’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.

“Funding scholarships at [Drew] is funding the well-being of South Los Angeles and that is a worthy investment,”  Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said of the Adamses’ gift.


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