Carlessia Hussein Named 2023 Philanthropist of the Year

Carlessia Hussein Named 2023 Philanthropist of the Year

Dr. Carlessia Hussein believes, by virtue of circumstances beyond their control, that some children need additional help to reach their full potential. Thanks to her vision and philanthropic leadership, 307 Howard County boys have received an extra opportunity over the past eight years.

For her key role in helping to make Howard County a better place, the Community Foundation of Howard County has named Carlessia Hussein its individual Philanthropist of the Year in 2023. Dr. Hussein was recognized at the foundation’s Annual Dinner & Celebration of Philanthropy on December 5 at Turf Valley Resort.

The Carlessia Hussein Minority Scholarship fund was established at the Community Foundation of Howard County (CFHoCo) in 2015. The fund provides scholarship grants for African American, Latino or Native American middle school males, who are enrolled in a Howard County public school, to attend four-week summer enrichment programs at various middle school locations. This past summer alone, 74 boys from 14 HCPSS middle schools were scholarship recipients.

Students participate in grade-level academic courses (reading/English, math, science, social studies) each morning, and in a wide range of enrichment opportunities in the afternoon. The scholarship provides children access to programs that encourage leadership, academic achievement, character development, expand problem‐solving skills and engender a sense of community.

The Carlessia Hussein Minority Scholarship covers 100 percent of tuition and related expenses (including lunch, snacks and transportation if needed) associated with participating in these summer programs. This year a total of $19,500 was distributed on behalf of the 74 selected recipients.

“The Hussein Scholarship program was started to offer needed opportunities to middle school boys of color who come from income-constrained families,” stated founder Carlessia Hussein. “Multiple years of data show that poverty is a major indicator for school failure and challenges through life. Males of color are more adversely affected. Middle schoolers are at such a critical developmental age, and this program provides enrichment experiences during summer break. Their world experiences should point to a path to success.”

Dr. Hussein’s community activist logic model is to push existing resources to neighborhoods that need them. Of critical importance, she seeks to add an experience that is culturally uplifting, raises self worth and inspires the boys to believe in themselves. Each May she hosts an award ceremony for the scholarship recipients that includes their parents, extended family, Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) officials, fund donors and elected officials. Each awardee is called to the stage to be recognized for earning his award.

Dr. Hussein started her career as a nurse and two decades later earned her doctorate in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout her career she made a significant impact on population health at the local and state levels. Interlaced in her more than 50‐year career, has been a commitment to the health of minority, underrepresented and underserved populations.

The scholarship is Dr. Hussein’s way of “passing it on.” She strongly believes that by reaching out to one child at a time you can affect the lives of many people. Through this scholarship, Dr. Hussein is able to offer that much-needed support to children in their more formative years.

“Dr. Hussein is an inspiration,” said Dee Athey, the director of grants and community engagement at the Community Foundation. “It’s a joy to assist her in impacting so many young people. What’s truly amazing though is that in addition to being the founder, the driving force and the main benefactor of this program, she has galvanized the community and inspired other people to contribute annually to her initiative. In fact, her philanthropic leadership has led to conversations with other folks about how they might be able to create their own program using her model.”

CFHoCo Philanthropist of the Year Individual/Family Award Recipients
2023: Dr. Carlessia Hussein
2022: Dr. Lillian Bauder
2017: Bob & Bach Jeffrey
2016: Fred & Mary Agnes Lewis
2015: Vivian “Millie” Bailey
2014: Ed & Fern Hamel
2013: The Doetsch Family
2012: The Lundy Family