Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos are giving back, helping to provide 20 homeless students heading to college with laptops and nearly $2,000 through the Win Scholarship Fund, the organization announced Tuesday in a statement to PEOPLE. The scholarship fund is designed to help these students make it through the COVID-19 pandemic, as homelessness makes it more difficult for them to access technology, books, transportation, and other parts of the educational experience that many times aren't covered by financial aid.
Win students have made leaps and bounds despite their difficult living situations, with the organization reporting 60 percent of its graduating high school seniors are beginning this fall at colleges nationwide, including Syracuse University, Clark Atlanta University, and Portland State University. Ripa said in a statement, "Mark and I are so excited to help these students in whatever small way we can. Starting college is a pivotal moment for so many and being a part of this time is really special for our family. We know each of these scholarship recipients has a bright future ahead and we can't wait to see what amazing things they accomplish!"
Mikayla Gray, a student who is attending SUNY Morrisville, now lives on campus but has family living at a Win shelter in the Bronx. "As a student at SUNY Morrisville studying equine science to one day become a vet, I take classes off-campus at nearby stables," she told PEOPLE. "I'll use this money to buy books and to save up for a car to get to and from my classes off-campus."
Michael Jones, a Portland State University student, is living in Win supportive housing until he heads to campus in the fall. "Despite the fires that are currently ripping through the West Coast, I am still determined to attend Portland State University and major in Creative Writing there," he told the outlet. "The scholarship from Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos is a major help to my college career and will help me purchase books, dorm essentials and other necessities, which will put me in a strong position toward success in my freshman year."
Win's president and CEO, Christine C. Quinn, added that the organization is "so grateful" to Ripa and Consuelos for supporting their students and "helping to make their college dreams a reality." She added, "Thanks to their generous donation, these students no longer have to worry about buying books or paying for a ride home, and can focus on what's the most important: succeeding in their studies." The couple has long supported Win students, donating $500,000 last year to purchase remote learning tools for hundreds of students and designating scholarship money. In March, they also donated $1 million to coronavirus relief efforts to the New York governor's office.