LACOE’s African American Heritage Committee Awards Students with Scholarships

Thu Feb 29 14:21:00 PST 2024

10 students from across L.A. County were awarded with scholarships.

The African American Heritage Committee (AAHC) held its long-awaited 34th annual student scholarship awards luncheon earlier this month, marking the first in-person gathering since 2020. This year's theme was "Black History is American History; Know the Past, Shape the Future." The event brought together current and retired staff members, proud to present scholarships to students and celebrate the achievements of African Americans.

The program opened with a special tribute to the legacy of the AAHC scholarship program, honoring and sharing the history and rich African American culture with the LACOE Family. The AAHC was founded in 1989 by Ethel Johnson, a former LACOE employee, along with several other African American LACOE employees. Ethel and her husband, Jim, who was not a LACOE employee, dedicated countless hours to the committee and supported AAHC activities. In their honor, their children founded the Jim and Ethel Johnson Scholarship Foundation following Ethel’s passing. Their daughter Kelcie White, a current LACOE employee, is a member of the AAHC and continues to carry on the legacy of scholarship and service that her parents established. At the luncheon, Kelcie proudly presented 10 deserving students with scholarships and gift cards. 

2024 AAHC Scholarship Recipients:


  • Madison Barreau 
  • Taylor Lee 
  • Candace Porter 
  • Elise Rodriguez 
  • Drew Tillman

From John Muir: 

  • Faith Gray-Gardner 
  • Immanuel Shorter

From Juvenile Court School: 

  • Danielle  
  • Tristan 
  • Amaya

“Standing on the backbone of our forefathers and my Mother Ethel Johnson. The African American Heritage Commitee will continue to educate, empower and stand in the gap so that we can continue to strive to reach one and teach one. Be strong mentally and continue believing in the dream when faced with tough times and surround ourselves with people who inspire ourselves and others,” said Kelcie White, daughter of Ethel Johnson, representative of the Jim and Ethel Johnson Foundation and LACOE Data Processing Assistant.

The winner of the $1000 Jim and Ethel Johnson scholarship was Danielle, a former JCS student, who enthusiastically accepted her certificate with her grandmother's presence.

Danielle concluded her award-winning essay with, “African Americans have had a huge impact on me and the rest of the world. I am my culture and so many others attempt to emulate my culture. I am the activist, I am fashion, and I am the athlete that millions tune into each year, I look forward to keeping our culture alive!”

The luncheon included live entertainment; three moving dance performances and one powerful theater performance, an excerpt from “Fences” by playwright August Wilson, from the talented students from the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts (LACHSA). The luncheon’s keynote speaker, Los Angeles County Board of Education Vice President, Dr. Stanley L. Johnson, shared an empowering message calling all LACOE employees to continue supporting our students through equity.

"Receiving a scholarship from the African American Heritage Committee is about investing in the power of education to transform lives. By providing these scholarships to our students, we are laying the foundation for them to embark on their career or college journeys with confidence and determination," said Dr. Diana Velasquez, Director of LACOE’s Division of Student Programs.

The scholarship sponsors of the event were the California Credit Union, SEIU Local 99, retirees and the Jim and Ethel Johnson.

View a recap video of the luncheon here.