Why a Virginia woman gives $1,000 to deserving students

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -  From the very beginning, Kimberly Martin knew how an education could change a life.

"It wasn't a matter of if you’re going to college, it was a matter of what college are you going attend," Kimberly told CBS 6 about her childhood. "School was very important to me and to my family."

Now Martin, an information technology professional, is sharing that love of school with college-bound high school seniors.

Sixteen years ago the Virginia State University graduate founded the KLM Foundation to award $1,000 scholarships to help defray the steep cost of a higher education.

Kimberly Martin (Photo courtesy of WTVR)

"We’ve sliced out a particular area that we want to target and that is pay for books for Virginia college students," Kimberly said.

Since 2002, KLM has awarded scholarships to nearly 250 students who have attended 23 Virginia colleges and universities.

"It is very difficult to choose the students, because there are so many who are in need," Kimberly said.

A grateful Kaci Easley received a KLM scholarship.

The Hampton University graduate has taken full advantage of her education, landing in Governor Terry McAuliffe's administration.

She now works for McGuireWoods Consulting.

She now gives back by volunteering for Kimberly's pride and joy.

"I do believe in Kim and the positive message that comes from her organization," Easley said. "I do attribute it to my success in the workforce."

Kimberly said her efforts pay homage to her late great-grandmother Florence Bowser, a teacher who built a school in Suffolk in 1920 to educate blacks in a segregated south. Martin is overjoyed carrying on the memory of her ancestor.

Photo courtesy of WTVR

"I didn’t know her, but she was a legend in my family. We kept her memory alive," Kimberly said. "I’m hoping she is proud and knows her legacy is living on," Kimberly.

Martin said a little part of her inspiration lives on in every one of the scholarships handed out.

"I love doing the book scholarship program," Kimberly said. "We just come together and set our goals and we reach them all for the kids."

The KLM Foundation will hold its 10th Annual “Black and White Affair” fundraiser on April 7. For more information, click here.

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