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"A college degree is all but a prerequisite for social and economic mobility in this country. The data show that investing in a college education pays off. Adults with at least a bachelor’s degree earn more income throughout their lives, have stronger protections against unemployment risk, are less likely to experience poverty and are less likely to have health uninsurance."

Vasquez, B., Ph.D. (2020, October 1). College Degrees Are Worth It – People with Bachelor’s Degrees Have Lower Poverty Rates. Retrieved April 10, 2023, from,likely%20to%20have%20health%20uninsurance.




At the Melson Foundation, we are dedicated to providing resources to underserved youth and young adults. Through its scholarship fund, created in honor of Relisha Rudd, the Foundation strives to help young people achieve success by providing funding for them to go to college/trade school or start a business. We want to ensure that young people feel seen and show them they're not forgotten.

Relisha Rudd.webp

At 15, Rashema Melson, the founder of the Melson Foundation, and her family began living in a non-congregate Family Homeless Shelter named DC General. It was previously a hospital, but instead of continuing to serve patients, it began to host over 600 families in the abandoned wards of its building. One family had a little girl named Relisha Rudd, who was only eight years old when she was kidnapped. Sadly, we cannot say she was taken from her home because she was a part of a population that had no place to call home.


There were so many ways that families like Rashema's and Relisha's were lost and forgotten by the rest of society because most people lack compassion towards those experiencing homelessness. The trauma and harsh realities of homelessness and poverty can be detrimental to one's well-being. Relisha and Rashema have both experiences in common, but unfortunately, Relisha never had a chance to overcome homelessness and poverty because she was never found.


Once the police launched a full investigation on her kidnapper, Kahil Tatum, he allegedly decided to murder his wife and commit suicide by shooting himself in the head. Police and community members searched far and wide, but we never saw her again. She was last seen on March 1, 2014. 


This story is a powerful anecdote that exposes the perils of poverty and homelessness. Relisha's story serves as a reminder of the need for resources that support economic mobility, especially for those living in poverty. Lack of financial stability leaves many individuals, like Relisha, vulnerable. Her story serves as a reminder that financial literacy and access to opportunities can be tools for individuals to lift themselves out of poverty. It is important to remember and learn from her story and ensure that everyone has access to tools to build a better future.


We believe that education is a powerful tool for combating poverty and inequality, and we hope this scholarship will help young people gain the skills and confidence they need to take control of their financial future. In our founder’s experience, education was a way out of generational poverty. We are committed to providing opportunities to learn and thrive to the most vulnerable people.

We started this in honor of Relisha Rudd to give young people hope and a chance to overcome unfortunate circumstances and become the best versions of themselves.

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