MAPS Foundation: Helping Students Excel

by / Jul. 23, 2015 11am EST

Let’s try an experiment. On your next opportunity, try having a conversation with someone regarding the current state of education in Western New York. While conversing, go ahead and evaluate how awkward the conversation becomes and how uncomfortable it makes you feel. For myself, this is no longer an experiment. Between the constant shuffling of superintendents, a divided school board, and plenty of discouraged Buffalo teachers, many Buffalo Public Schools students are left unmotivated and confused about their educational futures. As the parent of a child in the Buffalo Public Schools system, I often wonder what I can do to assist the youth facing these educational hurtles. Whenever this question arises, I think of local entrepreneur Alfred Parker. 

Parker, a Buffaloian and former high school basketball star, currently operates “Heavenly Hands; a commercial cleaning company originally operated with the assistance of his late mother, Marilyn A. Parker. After Marilyn’s untimely death, Parker established the Marilyn A. Parker Scholarship Foundation, which focuses on the passion his mother had for education, and the support of small businesses in the greater Buffalo community. “M.A.P.S.” as Parker calls his foundation, believes that no student should ever be denied proper education, due to the lack of funds. Many Buffaloians are excited about the newly implemented “Say Yes” program, but it has been yet to be determined if the program will be a success. According to Parker, the M.A.P.S. Foundation has been successfully providing financial support to future college students for its second year to date. 

The Marilyn A. Parker Scholarship is awarded to two high school seniors (one male and one female) who live in the City of Buffalo and arepursuing post-secondary education in the field of business. Each applicant is required to complete an application, a 500-word essay outlining their goals, and provide proof of initiative demonstrated throughout their academic career on how business has affected their lives. From there, a committee of Parker’s most trusted individuals select the scholarship award winners. This year’s scholarship winners are Lubana Ome of Bennett High school, and Tymon Turner of McKinley High school. 

Parker also hosts an annual charity event to help fund his scholarship. This year the M.A.P.S. Foundation will host a series of charity basketball games as its second annual fundraiser. Saturday, July 25th at the City Honors High School gymnasium, basketball games featuring the Buffalo Police Department vs. the Buffalo Fire Department and True Bethel Baptist Church vs. Bethesda World Harvest Church, are sure to attract lots of viewers. The main event, which is one of the most talked about basketball games of the day, will be the Oakk Room Restaurant vs. Priceless Furniture. Both are of local minority businesses with competitive ownership. The day begins with a youth camp in the morning, followed by five basketball games lasting throughout the day. Merchant vendors, food vendors, and youth drill teams will perform to entertain the audience as well. Parker, who still stays active in local basketball leagues, uses basketball as a conduit to reach the community. He has collaborated with the Willie Hutch Jones Sports Camp, and the Ballin’ for a Cause Foundation, to make this weekend’s event a success. Parker hopes his fundraiser will continue to grow in years to come. “I just hope that our community continues to support each other, and build up our black businesses to make promising futures for our inner city youth,” he says.

Tickets are $5 on sale at Doris records and the Oakkroom. This event will be held at City Honors High School located at 186 East North St. Buffalo, NY 14202 from 9am-5pm. For more information call 716 800-3121 ext. 102.