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Jacksonville College Students Benefit From Michael Jackson’s Music Scholarship Fund

2018 Jacksons' Music Scholarship Fund recipients flanked by city and school officials.
Brendan Rivers
2018 Jacksons' Music Scholarship Fund recipients flanked by city and school officials.

Four Jacksonville area college freshmen are benefiting from a donation given to the city by the King of Pop, 34 years ago.

Michael Jackson performed in the River City in July of 1984 as part of his Victory Tour, as reported by our news partners The Florida Times Union. During one performance, Jackson donated $100,000 to Jacksonville so the city could set up a trust fund for music scholarships.

Tuesday was the first time the city’s Kids Hope Alliance pulled from that fund to award scholarships. The organization’s predecessors had used that money to grant more than 50 scholarships to Duval County students between 1988 and 2011.

Most of those scholarships were awarded to students who were heading to college to major in music, but a few were given to music schools in the community with the goal of supporting students who were exploring and learning music performance.

Tuesday’s recipients were all freshman studying music performance selected by their college or university. Each of the students were required to perform a selected piece before accepting their scholarship from Mayor Lenny Curry and Kids Hope Alliance CEO Joe Peppers.

Skyler Sundrla-Dunn was Edward Waters College’s recipient for the year.  The Englewood High School graduate has been playing trombone for ten years, but Tuesday marked his first public performance.

Florida State College at Jacksonville selected vocalist Isabella Altenbach as its recipient. The Mandarin High School graduate plans to transfer to the University of North Florida to study Music Education once she finishes her Associate of Arts at FSCJ.

Vocalist Cyriac Adjevi was the recipient from Jacksonville University. The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts graduate says his goal is to become a music therapist and educator.

The final recipient was Paris Sullivan, also a graduate of Douglas Anderson, who studies French Horn at the University of North Florida. She hopes to one day play with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and to travel the world performing.

“The vision of Kids Hope Alliance is to help every child reach his or her academic, civic and career potential,” said Jennifer Blalock, Chief Strategy Officer at the Kids Hope Alliance. “Opportunities like this, led by Mayor Curry and Mr. Peppers and all of you in this room today, as well as the Jackson Family Foundation Scholarship, empower us to do that.”

According to city ordinance, the trust fund principal amount must remain in perpetuity and any interest generated will be used for music scholarships. So, each student was awarded $1,375 - a total of $5,500, the interest earned on the Jacksons’ Music Scholarship Fund during the fiscal year.

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or on Twitter at @BrendanRivers.

Special Projects Producer Brendan Rivers joined WJCT News in August of 2018 after several years as a reporter and then News Director at Southern Stone Communications, which owns and operates several radio stations in the Daytona Beach area.