The Inspiration Behind Our Mission

Alray Taylor grew up in Mission Hill, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Boston. He had a build imposing enough to earn himself the nickname “Horse,” but a personality so gentle that the lunch ladies at Charlestown High School loved to slip him extra desserts. He was a key member of the school’s basketball team, helping lead it to three of its four consecutive state titles.

After high school, Alray headed to the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where he earned a coveted Division I scholarship. But the transition to college proved difficult, as it does for many students, especially those whose often spotty educations from urban schools can leave them feeling unprepared. Alray ended up transferring to a smaller college.

Around this time, Alray’s educational career suffered a setback that, unfortunately, is all too common for first-generation college students of limited means. Alray’s parents died within six months of each other and he was forced to leave school so he could help care for his younger siblings. Back home in Boston, Alray gained a new appreciation for the importance of a college education. He worked to get back on track, with plans to enroll in a new college. Yet in August 2006, just a few days before the start of the school year, Alray was shot in broad daylight outside a convenience store in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood. In an example of the tragic senselessness of urban violence, Alray, who was unarmed and had long managed to steer clear of the streets, was killed just three days shy of his 22nd birthday. His death was crushing to the many family and friends who had been touched by his warm heart.

The Alray Scholars Program (officially the Alray Taylor Second Chance Scholarship) was founded to honor his memory by assisting promising students in overcoming many of the same hurdles that Alray faced during his short but unforgettable life. Our mission is to pair scholarship recipients with dedicated mentors who offer them the guidance and support they need to stay on the path to earning their degree.

Alray and I always talked about having our degrees and how much it would mean, not only to our friends and family, but for us to be able to look back and see how far we’ve come. I made a promise not only to myself but to Alray as well, that if I get the chance to get back into school, I’m not going to leave without my degree. –Cori Boston, Alray Scholar & Graduate