In 2003, Baldwin Wallace University, in collaboration with the CMSD and the Cleveland Scholarship Program, implemented the Barbara Byrd-Bennett Scholars Program targeted at African-American male high school students for the purpose of preparing them for college and seeing them enrolled in post-secondary education. The program was initiated during summer 2003, when thirty-three boys in the 8th grade, from Martin Luther King, Jr. High School arrived on the campus of Baldwin Wallace to begin the Summer Academy portion of the program. These students participated in a comprehensive program designed to assure personal and academic success so that they would graduate from high school, and enter post-secondary education opportunities. As of August 2007, 29 of the original 33 young men earned their high school diploma. Currently, 22 of the original 33 continue to pursue post-secondary education and training.
In August 2007, a new group of Scholars was initiated. Dr. Eugene Sanders, CMSD Superintendent, was pleased to endorse a second cohort of 30 Scholars. The program name was changed to the BW Scholars Program. John Adams High School, a new facility that was rebuilt in 2004 and opened in 2006, was identified as the high school where the second group is based. The guidance counselors and faculty were asked to recommend students who showed academic promise for participation in the program. As in the previous cohort, each of the young men was labeled "at risk for high school graduation" due to such factors as low household income; part of foster care system; frequent absence; living in a single parent home or living with another custodial adult beyond a biological parent; dealing with family members who have been incarcerated, who are disabled, or who are substance abusers.
As a pre-college access program, the primary purpose of the department is to ensure the Scholars' retention and graduation from high school, and ultimately their matriculation to higher education. To achieve this goal, the program has a model to equip young African-American males with the confidence, skills, and knowledge which will allow them to view education as a conduit to their future success. The participants are expected to commit to the program for four years, earn their high school diploma, and enroll in a higher education institution ranging from community college to public or private four-year institutions. The program consists of four major elements: Academic Enrichment, Mentoring and Leadership Development, Community Engagement, & Career Preparation and Internships.