On May 7, 2011, Sports & Entertainment Promoters of America, Inc.’s founder Thomas G. Hicks, Sr. announced at SEPA’s Mothers Day brunch, that the S.E.P.A., Inc. has established a non-profit organization, the SEPA Education Foundation, to provide scholarships to college students. Shortly thereafter, Vanessa Purnell was recruited to serve as the first Executive Director of the Foundation.
The first scholarship created by the Foundation was designated as a scholarship to student(s) – pursuing a degree in the management areas of sports, entertainment, hospitality, hotel, restaurant or business – that attend a Historically Black College or University, or Hispanic Serving Institution. The scholarship was named - the Goldsmith Rinzler Williams (GRW) Scholarship – for Gregory D. Goldsmith, Kate Hughes Rinzler, and David H. Williams, all very close friends of Thomas G. Hicks, Sr.
Gregory D. Goldsmith, attended the Pennsylvania State University-Behrend College with Thomas Hicks and he was very instrumental in assiting Hicks in developing the music entertainment group in the early stages of the development of S.E.P.A, Inc. when the company was located in Pennsylvania. Hicks was Goldsmith’s resident assistant at Penn State, and they worked closely with students and the administration at Penn State to improve cultural awareness and residential life for students. After both graduated from Penn State, they continued their friendship and advocacy for students. Ironically, Hicks and Goldsmith worked in admission, but it was Goldsmith who decided to make it a career. Goldsmith worked in admission at Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University, and Franklin and Marshall. Mr. Goldsmith helped so many people that crossed his path as a student and as a college administrator. Mr. Hicks admired Goldsmith for his approach and philosophy to college admissions and Hicks praised Gregory Goldsmith for being “Goldie” when he read the Wall Street Journal on May 29, 2011 which reported on Franklin & Marshall’s admissions process. Gregory Goldsmith died on January 30, 2002 at the age of 35.
Kate Hughes Rinzler, met Thomas Hicks and David Williams (scholarship honoree) in 1972. Ms. Rinzler, a cultural anthropologist, was studying children’s play, particulary neighborhood football teams in Washington, D.C. She was a specialist in children’s folklore with the Smithsonian, and took a strong interest in learning about the boys football league in Washington, D.C. Her friendship with Thomas Hicks, one of the key organizers of the SE Boys Football League (BFL), opened the door to her access to the children-organized league and many of the players who were between the ages of 9-18. Ms. Rinzler began to research their activities and began to chroniclize every event of the BFL. She interviewed almost every player, cheerleader, coach, and parent that was involved in the league in the ten year period. Ms. Rinzler wrote her master’s thesis on children’s play and included many activities of the BFL. Hicks and Rinzler became very good friends and continued their friendship as Hicks went on to college and law school. It was Rinzler’s desire to have the master’s thesis developed into a manuscript and published. Ms. Rinzler died of cancer in Prescott Valley, Arizona on December 25, 2010. Pursuant to her request, the manuscript was sent to Thomas Hicks.
David H. Williams was a childhood friend of Thomas Hicks’. He was affectionately called “Poochie” by his family and close friends. Hicks and Williams lived in the southeast Eastern Market area of Washington, D.C. In the 1970s, they played footiball in the child-organized Southeast Boys Football League. Hicks talked William’s mother in to allowing him to play for their local football team. David Williams became a standout player during his first year, and the league’s annual rookie of the year award was named – the David Williams Rookie of the Year Award. Hicks became a mentor of Williams, who followed Hicks to the Mackin Cathoilc High in Washington, D.C. Williams began to gain recognition for his basketball skills at Mackin, and went on to become a “lettered” basketball player at the University of South Florida, Williams received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in criminal justice. After playing basketball professionally with many leagues; Williams decided that he wanted to become a Sports Agent. During this time, Hicks was developing S.E.P.A., Inc., as a music entertainment and management company in Norristown, Pennsylvania. But, it was “music” to Hicks’ ears that his mentee, Williams, was interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry. They shared their ideas and desires to work together in the near future. Williams became a sport agent and he was active in the Amateur Athletic Union. David Williams coached and mentored many children having a great impact on their young lives. Although, Hicks and Williams never had the opportunity to work together as sports agents, they continuously discuss issues related to the sports business. While biking, Williams was killed on June 4, 2010 in Washington, D.C.. In addition to Hicks’ desire to honor Williams’ memories, S.E.P.A., Inc participates in the David “Poochie” Williams Annual Fundraiser Picnic and is a proud supporter of the Bump N Run Youth Organization, an organization close to the hearts of Williams and his family.
On August 7, 2011, the first Goldsmith Rinzler Williams scholarship was awarded to Chelsea Stanley, a freshman at Delaware State University.
On August 15, 2012, the FilltheGap Scholarship was established under the leadership of Vanessa Purnell. The FilltheGap Scholarship was established to assist students that discover an immediate need to fill an unexpected “gap” that exist between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution. The FilltheGap application process is somewhat less formal under student should follow the instructions on the FilltheGap website page.
Applications for the GRW Scholarship can be downloaded from this page. The application package are to be completed in its entirety and returned to the address on the application package. Applications can also be retained from financial aid office in HBCUs and HSIs.