Each year between May and July the Buckhead Rotary Club names an Otis Jackson Scholar. The Buckhead Rotary Foundation provides each named Scholar with a two-year scholarship, beginning with the student’s junior year, providing $13,000 in tuition assistance paid in increments of $6,500 per year.
Scholar selection is patterned after the Rhodes Scholar program. The scholars must be enrolled in an Oglethorpe University program intended to result in the conferring of a recognized degree. The scholarship is merit-based; there are no financial need requirements. Scholars are selected with equal weight based on their demonstrated athletic ability, academic achievement, and character and leadership qualities.
The program was named in honor of Buckhead Rotarian Otis Jackson, a student scholar, athlete and leader at Oglethorpe, who subsequently served as Superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools. The Otis Jackson Scholarship program was originated by Buckhead Rotary President Frank Stevenson in 1986, and the associated Otis Jackson Trust received IRS approval as a 501(c)3 charitable organization on August 23, 1989.
In 2008, the Otis Jackson Trust donated its entire endowment of $205,837.08 to the Buckhead Rotary Foundation, which now administers the financial aspects of the program. In accepting the donation, the Buckhead Rotary Foundation agreed that the Otis Jackson Scholarship would be continued as long as the Buckhead Rotary Foundation exists, and that the $10,000 scholarship amount be increased in $1,000 increments based on the percentage increase in the Buckhead Rotary Foundation Endowment above $677,908. The Otis Jackson Trust was then dissolved and a Club committee was established to manage the selection of the Scholars.
At the time of the merger, the Buckhead Rotary Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation were amended to provide that Scholarship recipients would be selected as soon as possible after May 1 and no later than July 31 of each year to receive the proceeds of the scholarship in time for the up coming school year. The selection criteria, scholarship amount and increases were included in the amendment to the Articles of Incorporation. The amendment also provides that there can be no discrimination of any kind in the selection process, but that no Buckhead Rotarian nor a relative can be a recipient. Further, the scholarship is to be used exclusively by the scholar for educational purposes, including but not limited to tuition, room, board, and personal expenses of the recipient while attending Oglethorpe University.