BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A joint scholarship celebration was held at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church on Saturday.

More than 30 high school graduates from across Central Illinois received scholarships from more than 15 social organizations. The NAACP, The Links, Incorporated, and the National Pan-Hellenic Council were present.

The Mentoring and Providing Scholarships Program (MAPS) is the catalyst behind the event. MAPS prepares students with the skillsets they need, such as public speaking, in order to have a successful collegiate career.

“MAPS is very beneficial because some of these things I would have not learned without MAPS,” said Cana Brooks, a MAPS participant.

Dr. James Harden, the executive director for Family and Community Engagement (FACE) from Unit 4 in Champaign, served as the keynote speaker. Recipients also heard encouraging words from Dr. KaReisha Robinson who is a neurologist and former MAPS participant.

Longstanding organizations were not the only ones who presented scholarships. Brooks presented a scholarship on behalf of her non-profit Cana Cares. Rising high school senior Bradley Ross Jackson presented several scholarships on behalf of his Bradley Encourages Kindness Campaign or B.E. KIND.

“It was a few years ago when I decided to give away a scholarship because I wanted to assist the high school seniors as they go onto college,” said Jackson. “I’ve seen throughout the years that African-Americans haven’t really been recognized for some scholarships, so I really wanted to put this out there.”

Organization leaders said they are celebrating as a group to make a bigger impact.

“Socially-oriented organizations that come together to recognize our beautiful African-American children who’ve done some phenomenal things,” said Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson, Founder of MAPS. “Not only are they giving out scholarships because of their scholastic aptitude but also because of their community service. And that impels them to want to continue to make a difference.”

Approximately $82,500 in scholarships were awarded.