Zacch Estrada-Petersen, Founder, My Brother's Keeper Scholarship Endowment Fund, UNCC

Zacch Estrada-Petersen, Founder, My Brother's Keeper Scholarship Endowment Fund, UNCC

At the risk of referencing an overused phrase, this first full year of running the My Brother’s Keeper Scholarship Endowment Fund certainly pays homage to the “If you build it, they will come” philosophy.

When Kevin Jackson and I decided to create the scholarship fund, we did so with the understanding that we would be funding it ourselves. In fact, we’re legally bound to do so by the pledge we signed to each contribute $12,500 over the course of five years to fully endow the scholarship. In other words, even if the richest Charlotte philanthropist decided to write a check today for the full 25 grand, it would just be gravy on top of what Kevin and I already agreed to give.

I say that to point out that, by rights, with Kevin and I alone contributing at the rate we are, at this stage in the process our endowment should be at just over $5,500. I am honored beyond words to say that we are at more than double that amount.

In other words – we built it, and they came. From every corner.

Within two weeks of launching our website in June, we were featured in the UNC Charlotte Magazine.  July brought a full-page feature in Metro Proponent Magazine and a front-page article in The Charlotte Post. A month later we were profiled in Carolina Style Magazine, in an article titled “#LifeGoals: How to Set Up a Scholarship Endowment Fund.”

In October, Children of the Sun, the former gospel choir at UNCC, held a reunion benefit concert on campus and donated all of the money they collected to the scholarship. The Young Alumni Chapter at UNCC hosted an Alumni Spirit Night at the local Tijuana Flats a week later, where the restaurant donated a portion of the proceeds back to their chapter. They chose to give it all to us. Nine of our friends are now set up to donate $20 a month to the fund, with some of their employers matching what they contribute. Donations came in from people neither of us knew.

My church is currently planning a benefit concert in February, and the scholarship will be one of the three featured beneficiaries at the 4th Annual Green Tie Gala, hosted by the UNCC Alumni Association, in April. The new goal – albeit a lofty one – is to have the fund fully endowed over the course of 2017.

Our blog series, “What They See Is What They’ll Be”, which profiles Black males from the UNC Charlotte community who are actively engaged in the STEM fields, has been highly received. Our website has had over 2,000 visits since June, and our Instagram and Facebook pages are live as of this month.

In short, we couldn’t have asked for a better first year. Thank you for coming along for the journey.

The My Brother's Keeper Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is an endowment fund targeted to Black males majoring in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields at UNCC. Learn more at