Ridley Scholarship Program Announces $1 Million Gift From Truist Wealth

Group of scholarship winners group photo

The Water N. Ridley Scholarship Program has awarded more than 300 scholarships to outstanding Black undergraduate students. (Submitted photo)

The Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Program and the University of Virginia Alumni Association today announced that Truist Wealth has made a $1 million gift in honor of business and philanthropic leader S. Buford Scott and Scott & Stringfellow. The gift establishes a fully endowed Ridley Scholarship for the entire in-state cost of attendance for a young Black scholar at UVA, as well as the formation of the Truist-Ridley Leadership and Financial Education Academy, benefitting rising second- and third-year Black students.

Buford Scott served from 1974 to 2018 as the board chair of Richmond-based Scott & Stringfellow, previously a wholly-owned subsidiary of BB&T Corporation. BB&T Corporation merged with SunTrust Bank in 2019 to form Truist Financial Corporation, and in 2021 the Scott & Stringfellow name was retired.

Scott served as a two-time appointee to UVA’s Board of Visitors as well as a member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Managers. He also chaired the merit-based Jefferson Scholars Program, which, like the Ridley Program, provides scholarships and programming support to attract the best and brightest students to UVA.

“This generous gift from Truist Wealth will enable scholarship support for a deserving student as well as financial education for many more,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “It is a fitting tribute to Buford Scott, a true UVA citizen and leader whose legacy as a champion for opportunity is reflected in this unique partnership.”

A New Scholarship to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Buford Scott Ridley Scholarship, a renewable four-year merit scholarship, will be awarded to a Black student from Virginia and will cover tuition and fees, room and board, and a robust programmatic academy experience: the Ridley Scholar Experience, which includes unique opportunities for leadership, career training and immersive experiences. The first student recipient of the Buford Scott Ridley Scholarship will begin their education at UVA in fall 2022.

“Buford had many passions in his life, chief among them were his family, education, equity and the University of Virginia,” said Joseph M. Thompson, chief wealth officer of Truist. “The Buford Scott Ridley Scholarship honors the causes Buford championed, leaves a lasting legacy of the Scott family and the company they helped build, and demonstrates Truist’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to the amazing things the scholarship recipients and Academy participants will achieve at UVA, and in their lives and careers.”

The scholarship will be administered by the UVA Alumni Association’s Ridley Scholarship Program team. The selection criteria for the Buford Scott Ridley Scholar will be consistent with current evaluation standards of the Ridley Program for high academic standing, outstanding leadership and community involvement.

Financial and Career Education Take Center Stage

The impact of this gift will also benefit rising second- and third-year Black students through the launch of a financial and career education pilot program funded by Truist Wealth. The Truist-Ridley Leadership and Financial Education Academy will partner with the Truist Leadership Institute, the Ridley Scholarship Program and the UVA Career Center to provide cohorts of Black students with classroom and learning experiences covering leadership, and the potential for careers in financial services, technology, consulting and related fields.

The program will provide students opportunities to learn from Truist executives and the Truist Leadership Institute’s award-winning faculty. It will also introduce students to Truist and the company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as opportunities in the financial services industry.

For Truist, this collaboration is a remarkable way to connect with high-quality students in an authentic setting and increase awareness of the opportunities Truist is committed to providing.

The Ridley Scholarship Program and the UVA Alumni Association will work with the UVA Career Center to develop selection criteria for the program, which will include, but not be limited to, Ridley Scholars. The first Academy program will take place during the UVA’s January term of 2022, followed by a May 2022 program. The program will support two cohorts of 20 to 25 students each year, for a total of up to 100 students over a two-year period.

“We are incredibly grateful that Truist Wealth chose the Ridley Scholarship Program as its partner in honoring Buford Scott and creating the Academy, the first-of-its-kind program at the University. Truist Wealth’s landmark gift will aid the Ridley Scholarship Program in attracting exceptional students to the University, as well as ensure that our students have the opportunity to participate in innovative leadership and financial education programming that will help prepare them for their post-college personal and professional lives,” Consuelo Kendall, chair of the Ridley Scholarship Program, said.

Scott championed racial and community equity through educational access and financial education. He co-founded the Virginia Council on Economic Education and supported its work for more than 50 years. He devised the “Stock Market Game,” which became a staple of financial education for public elementary school children in Virginia. He also founded Elk Hill, a nonprofit that runs residential and health services for at-risk, low-income children through specialized education, community-based services, and residential treatment programs across the commonwealth. He was involved in numerous other programs to assist at-risk children and promote their education, including faith-based projects in the Richmond area.

Media Contact

Lily E. West

University of Virginia Alumni Association

Brian Boudreaux

Truist Corporate Communications