Clemontine Washington, ED.D., and Harold Washington

Clemontine Washington, ED.D., and Harold WashingtonFour years ago, Clemontine Washington, Ed.D., approached her husband and son with a proposition that had been on her mind for some time. Washington, currently serving in her second term as mayor of Midway, Ga., wanted to establish an endowment at her alma mater, Savannah State University.

The Washington family had always contributed to SSU's various fundraising campaigns over the years, but Mayor Washington wanted to do something more - she wanted to leave a legacy for future generations.

"I believe in carry-over value. I got a lot of carry-over value at Savannah State," says Mayor Washington, who has served in various alumni leadership roles at the university since graduating in 1966 with an undergraduate degree in health, physical education and recreation.

Mayor Washington's husband, the late Richard Washington, and their son, Harold, both Savannah State graduates themselves, took just a few minutes to think about her proposal before agreeing to begin saving money for what is now the Washington Family Educational Endowment.

"One of the scriptures that we read is Proverbs 13:22 - that a good man leaves his inheritance to his children's children," says Harold, who received a bachelor of business administration degree in management from SSU in 1998. "My father lived his life for his grandchildren, and so now I'm living mine for my [future] grandchildren to try to be able to change a whole generation."

Formally established in 2015, the scholarship will be awarded to rising junior and senior athletes majoring in an education-related discipline. The family chose to honor athletes pursuing careers in education because of their own backgrounds. Harold Washington, who ran track at SSU, currently serves as an assistant principal at Columbia High School in Decatur, Ga. Richard Washington, a 1956 graduate of Savannah State with an undergraduate degree in social studies, was a former state championship basketball and football player who spent much of his career as a health and physical education teacher in the Chatham and Appling county school systems. He passed away in July 2015 at the age of 81. Mayor Washington, a former basketball player and track and field star, retired after a long career as a school administrator.

Harold hopes that the first recipient of the Washington Family Educational Endowment fund will be named in Fall 2016. Meantime, the family has several ideas to raise additional money for the endowment, including fundraisers and a scholarship gala.

"It feels really good to be in a position to be able to give back and help some kids along the way," Harold says. "When you get to the point that you're able to help someone, how dare you not reach back and help someone, because someone helped you."

By Amy Pine