Spotify announces winners of Spelman College NextGen scholarship

Winners will receive $10,000 during sophomore, junior, and senior years

Spotify has announced the five winners of its NextGen Scholarship programme for students of Atlanta’s Spelman College pursuing a career in audio media.

The recipients of the scholarship programme are Biology major Rokiyah Darbo, Theatre and Performance major Taylor Mill, Music major Ashley Rawls, Theater & Performance and English major Bailey Johnson, and Documentary Filmmaking major Tellisa Massey. All recipients are full-time first-year Spelman students with a minimum GPA of 3.0. 

Winners will receive a $10,000 (£7,836) scholarship for their sophomore, junior, and senior years - funded by Spotify’s Creator Equity Fund - and have the option to become a Spotify ambassador.

Spelman College is a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) focused on liberal arts for women and located in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the first HBCU to offer NextGen programming supported by Spotify, after the platform previously launched the program at the University of Southern California, University of Pennsylvania, and New York University. The initiative is part of Spotify’s goal to empower and amplify the voices of underrepresented creators.

“Scholarships like NextGen can help HBCU students by providing financial support for those who may be institutionally disadvantaged,” said Rawls. “It is no secret that HBCUs are often underfunded, which in turn limits scholarship opportunities for students.”

“Scholarships like NextGen help alleviate these challenges. It also allows more Black creatives to be involved in industries that lack diversity and Black representation. By giving HBCU students incredible opportunities like this, it fosters a space where Black people can be appreciated and continues to challenge the norms while maintaining culture.”

In addition to the NextGen scholarship program, Spotify also hosted special events and training programs at Spelman College and is planning to introduce an on-campus podcast recording space in the future. It also announced an audio-first NextGen curriculum at Spelman earlier this year and hosted a weeklong Spotify Labs Creator Program. 

As part of the curriculum, Spotify launched a seven-part true crime podcast series in July titled Emmett Till: The Cultural Afterlife of an American Boy, created by Spelman students under the instruction of professor Dr. Michelle Hite and Spotify’s SoundUp team. The series investigates the murder of 14-year old Till and how it impacted American political, media, and civil rights history.