Jeffrey Warren, 17, was awarded a $1,000 college scholarship by the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club at ceremonies in the gym of Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise reported Monday, but after talking with his father, chose to return the money, noting "They announced it was for an African-American."
The cover letter to the scholarship application, which was sent to high school guidance counselors, but which Warren says he never saw, specified the prize was for African-Americans, and that African-Americans were "encouraged to apply," the newspaper said.
The club, despite mixed opinions, chose to accept Warren's return of the award, scholarship Chairwoman Etta Brown said, adding that the club would revise language on next year's application to clarify who is eligible.
The Sacramento Pacific Legal Foundation noted that organizations using private funding can use any eligibility criteria they choose for scholarships.
The club later awarded the scholarship to a female African-American student at Warren's school, the newspaper said.