Just over a month after his live-streamed death at the hands of a police officer sparked horror, grief and days of protests across the country, Philando Castile's alma mater in St. Paul, MN plans to honor him with a scholarship in his memory.
According to the Star Tribune, the scholarship commemorating Castile is being established by the St. Paul Central High School Foundation. It will be awarded to a graduating student with plans to explore a career in child development or education.
"[Castile] worked at a school, didn’t have his education license, but he definitely affected children," Adrian Perryman, who graduated from Central two years after Castile, explained to the paper. "So we’d like someone to work on what he was: helping students."
Castile worked as a cafeteria supervisor at the nearby James J. Hill Montessori school. "Kids loved him," a coworker said in a statement issued by the St. Paul Public Schools after Castile's killing. "He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his 'wing man.' He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day 'sit on the other side of this table.'"
To help start the scholarship, members of four Central High School graduating classes have reportedly coordinated with the Castile family for a kick-off event scheduled for August 21. Featuring music from local hip-hop acts, food, and activities for children, Central Honors Philando is billed as a "family-friendly event," with all proceeds reportedly going directly to the scholarship fund.
Over 500 people have already RSVP'd to the event on its Facebook page, and hundreds have been expressing interest in participating in the kick off, including one user who asked if her grandparents, who graduated from the school over 50 years before Castile, were allowed to attend. According to the Star Tribune, at least 1,000 people are expected to come.
In an update on August 15th, organizer Trevor Thronveit announced that over $7,500 had already been raised for the scholarship, with an additional $2,000 promised as matching donations from sponsors for the event itself. The amount raised this year will reportedly determine whether the scholarship fund will operate annually.
The scholarship kick off event roughly coincides with a return to duty for St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is reportedly operating in a "limited, administrative role" as of August 15. Yanez is the officer responsible for fatally shooting Castile during a July 6 traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He had been placed on administrative leave following Castile's death.
Castile's death came just days after the police shooting of another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, LA. Both incidents, each of which was captured on video, sparked intense protests in their respective cities, and around the country, as activists, civil rights organizers and the Black Lives Matter movement called for changes in law enforcement policy and attitudes toward communities of color.