Prudential, PRSA Foundation, Weber boost Dukes scholarship

NEW YORK: Prudential Financial, the PRSA Foundation, and Weber Shandwick will increase funding for the Ofield Dukes Scholarship for Excellence in Public Relations.

NEW YORK: Prudential Financial, the PRSA Foundation, and Weber Shandwick will increase funding for the Ofield Dukes Scholarship for Excellence in Public Relations.

The scholarship honors PR legend and civil rights pioneer Dukes, who passed away last December after a battle with bone cancer.

The scholarship fund was established through a $5,000 gift from Prudential Financial. The PRSA Foundation and Prudential both said they will contribute $5,000 more last week.

Bob DeFillippo, CCO of Prudential Financial and a PRSA foundation board member, called for others in the industry to pledge additional contributions, resulting in a $5,000 matching gift from Weber Shandwick.

One goal of the scholarship is to reflect Dukes' values, such as excellence in the ethical practice of PR.

“Ofield touched the lives of many women and minority practitioners working in our profession today,” DeFillippo said last week at the PRSA Foundation's Paladin Dinner. “That's how I first met him in 2007, when Prudential became one of the first corporate sponsors to make a major contribution to the Washington memorial honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."

The criteria and award amounts for the scholarship have not yet been decided, DeFillippo said.

“The foundation board and leadership will talk to me and talk to [Weber president Andy Polanksy] to get our thoughts on what we would like to see happen, but in general what we want to do is have money available for scholarships for young people, which is what Dukes was all about,” DeFillippo told PRWeek on Monday.

Dukes also worked as an adjunct professor of PR at Howard University and at American University's school of communications. He founded Ofield Dukes and Associates 42 years ago, and he also helped to organize the first Congressional Black Caucus dinner. Dukes also helped to coordinate the march that was instrumental in establishing Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday as a national holiday.

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