Les Treize Scholarships are Changing Lives
Years before the Civil Rights movement, a quiet revolution was taking place in Bridgeport.
In 1947, thirteen black women set out to improve the lives of black youth in the region. They named themselves "Les Treize Negro Business and Professional Women's Club."
Their mission was clear: to stimulate, recognize and reward the academic achievements of black youth and provide scholarships for attending college.
Building a community of caring
At the beginning, members pooled their own money to provide the first scholarship of $100.
Later, they raised money by holding summer festivals where they cooked and sold hundreds of chicken dinners. They continued with "Sweetheart Balls," drawing crowds of attendees and heavy newspaper coverage.
The women of Les Treize signified positive change, integrity and hard work.
"We were seen as a community group that was making a difference," said Geraldine Johnson, the remaining member of the original 13 founders. "As a result, we started receiving contributions from other organizations and individuals to help in our efforts."
Leaving a lasting legacy in Bridgeport
Now, 65 years later, Les Treize continues to be a vibrant part of the Bridgeport community.
With an endowment of nearly $800,000 and growing, the Les Treize scholarship funds have made a significant impact in the lives of hundreds of Bridgeport youth.
The women of Les Treize have provided scholarships totaling more than $450,000 to 416 deserving students. When the scholarship program first started, awards were $250. Now, the minimum scholarship award is $1,200.
This fall, 15 students headed off to college thanks to scholarships from Les Treize. They leave eager, optimistic and ready for new challenges, forever influenced by the women of Les Treize.