Keeping Reginald F. Lewis’ dream alive
Beverley Cooper, vice president, Reginald F. Lewis Foundation
“Keep going, no matter what,” was the favorite saying of Reginald F. Lewis, an attorney, entrepreneur and philanthropist whose high-profile endeavors included becoming the first African American to build a billion-dollar company. That quote exemplifies his attitude and values, says Beverley Cooper, vice president of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation.
“That’s who he was,” Cooper explains. If Lewis didn’t initially succeed in a business or life venture, “It just made him more determined to do it even better,” she adds.
Lewis died in 1993, and the Lewis Foundation continues to celebrate his legacy by encouraging young people in Baltimore to keep reaching for their dreams. The organization supports a variety of educational initiatives in the city, including a newly endowed $250,000 gift to UB that will provide a full scholarship each year to a Baltimore student who is a business major with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Lewis may have lived in New York, Cooper says, but he grew up in Baltimore and always considered Charm City to be his home. His foundation donated $5 million towards the endowment and founding of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American History & Culture in downtown Baltimore, and it has also funded many other scholarship and fellowships. With the scholarship at UB, the Lewis Foundation hopes to make a difference among not only the local student recipients but also the people those students encounter during their time at UB and throughout their lives.
“It’s like throwing a pebble in the water and having the ripples move outward,” Cooper says. “We think these young people will inspire others, including their children and their children’s children.”
Lewis believed that education was the pathway to success, Cooper continues. “Reginald always said [that] we have to make sure that our children are aware of everything this world has to offer,” she says. “If young people are prepared, they’ll go out and do great things.”