Civil rights-era grownup job-training program evokes scholarships for as we speak’s grownup college students | Leisure/Life

Rose Brundage Moore was 65 when she embarked on a new academic career at Goodwill Technical College on Canal Street. She signed up for the school’s medical coding and billing program in August 2019, but before she even started the fall semester, Moore feared she would have to take a break from studying. As an unemployed elderly woman doing expensive car repairs, she couldn’t pay the tuition fees.

“I contacted the school and told them I couldn’t attend,” she said. “I told them that I might be able to attend next semester or the following year.”

However, Moore’s academic advisor Jerilyn Collins helped her find a financial sponsor through the Department of Labor so that she could move forward – but things were still not easy. Moore ended her first semester with copies of reading assignments and PowerPoint presentations because she couldn’t afford books.

Collins came to the rescue again. She led Moore to the 431 Exchange Scholarship Program, which provides cash grants to students pursuing education or training goals. Applicants are required to write an essay about the person who inspired their academic journey, so Moore wrote about Collins.

Towards the end of 2019, the St. Roch resident received a $ 1,431 scholarship that allowed her to buy used books for the following semester. Last December, Moore was able to pay for the certification exam, study materials, and small computer equipment thanks to a second grant from The 431 Exchange (for $ 431) and funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She also donated $ 100 to The 431 Exchange.

“I believe in paying it up,” said Moore.


The siblings Jeanne and Jeff Geoffray founded the 431 Exchange in 2018 in honor of their late mother Alice Geoffray.

A family affair

The 431 Exchange ( is a national not-for-profit organization with roots in New Orleans. It supports education equality through advocacy, fundraisers, and a scholarship fund.

The siblings Jeanne and Jeff Geoffray founded the organization in 2018 in honor of their late mother Alice Geoffray.

Alice Geoffray was the director of the famous adult education center which operated in a shabby part of the French Quarter from 1965 to 1972. The school primarily offered vocational training to underemployed black women while challenging the norms of segregation in the business world. While it was open, 431 women graduated from the groundbreaking school.

“These were the first black women to incorporate the downtown New Orleans offices,” said Jeanne Geoffray, noting that women’s accomplishments reverberated across the region and contributed to equal employment opportunities during and after the civil rights era to accomplish.

Alice Geoffray earned masters and doctorates and was director of professional education at the Louisiana State Department. “But she always loved that time of her life and stuck closely to the 431 graduates,” said Jeanne Geoffray.

Alice Geoffray died in 2009, but through The 431 Exchange, the Geoffray siblings are following in their mother’s footsteps.

“We feel we have a great responsibility to carry on the legacy of my mother, teachers and graduates,” said Jeanne Geoffray. “My mother talked about her for 50 years. It’s just amazing to reconnect with them and be part of our family and we are part of them. “

The scholarship program is open to anyone 18 years of age or older enrolled in a college, university, profession, or business school. Scholarships worth $ 1,431 apiece are awarded to eight applicants per year, including descendants of AEC students.

Jeanne Geoffray described the grant as a “cash boost” rather than a “full-fledged grant” that will help with accommodation, classes, or meals.

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2020 Scholarship holder, Bobby Steptoe, is the great nephew of 1969 AEC graduate Shirley Rondeno.

Although the adult education center has historically been associated with women, The 431 Exchange first offered a man a scholarship in December. The recipient, Bobby Steptoe, is the great nephew of 1969 Center graduate Shirley Rondeno.

Steptoe grew up in what was then the St. Bernard Projects, but lives in Houston. The 23-year-old is aiming for a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Houston and plans to graduate this spring.

“My aunt Shirley told me about the (scholarship) opportunity,” said Steptoe. “I liked what (the Adult Learning Center) stood for – empowering African American women in New Orleans.”

For his application essay, Steptoe wrote about his mother, who graduated from college in high school.

“Seeing you return after all these years has kept me motivated,” he said. “I didn’t want to undo all of the things she worked for.”

Further scholarship holders in autumn 2020 are Anaya LeBlanc, Pamela Manuel and Jazmine Foxworth.


2020 scholarship holder Anaya LeBlanc

LeBlanc is studying psychology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. When she finishes in 2024, she will be the first person in her family to graduate from college.

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2020 scholarship holder Pamela D. Manuel

Manuel is doing a PhD in business administration from Walden University in Minneapolis. She was inspired by her late grandmother – a woman who underscored the importance of raising her 13 children and her numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


2020 scholarship holder Jazmine Foxworth

Foxworth learns software engineering through the New Orleans-based nonprofit Operation Spark. She grew up in the library with her mother every Thursday. Tradition sparked her interest in reading.

For the 2021-22 school year, The 431 Exchange is hoping to award 43 scholarships of varying dollar amounts, said Jeanne Geoffray.

Moral support

Though Moore largely credits her academic advisor for resurrecting her educational journey, the two-time scholar says her family, classmates, and teachers enlivened her spirits with words of encouragement along the way.

“We were put into each other’s lives to build lasting friendships that we will remember forever,” she said.

Moore finished her coursework and passed a National Healthcare Association certification exam during the vacation. (Your graduation is pending due to COVID-19.)

“I’m excited,” she said. “I am an educator myself (she was a certified CPR instructor and GED tutor) and I always do my best to encourage others to fulfill their dreams, even if it’s just about self-actualization. You are never too old to learn anything new. “

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