Madison Charitable Foundation continues impact

MSYI participants

Since 2009, the Madison Charitable Foundation has contributed more than $500,000 to help make the inclusive educational environment at Mississippi State University accessible to even more ambitious students. Investments from the Houston, Texas-based organization have directly impacted numerous students through scholarships, the MSU Promise Program and MSU ACCESS. Today, the Madison Charitable Foundation is extending its outstanding support and opening new doors for Bulldog students with a $25,000 gift for the Madison Charitable Foundation World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute Fund.

Founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the World Food Prize serves as the foremost international award recognizing the achievement of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. In 1994, the World Food Prize Youth Institute was created to increase awareness and involvement of youth in the mission to fight hunger and poverty in a meaningful way.

Similarly, the Mississippi Youth Institute is a partnership program with the World Food Prize that gives the state’s high school students a firsthand understanding of the work currently taking place in Mississippi to address such issues. As a leading land-grant research institution trained in improving food production for a growing population, MSU is home to the life-changing experience.

To participate, ninth through 12th-grade students, assisted by teachers or mentors, conduct research on global challenges they care about and write an essay proposing innovative solutions. They are then invited to attend an exciting, daylong event, hosted by the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences each spring, to present and discuss their findings as an official Borlaug Scholar. The Borlaug Scholars recognition pays tribute to the World Food Prize’s founder, who understood the importance of engaging young people in efforts to feed the world.

“If you are striving to solve global problems at 16, you’ll likely be doing the same at 60,” said Keegan Kautzky, director of national education programs for the World Food Prize. “The goal of this program is to empower passionate and promising youth to see how they might help feed the world.”

Borlaug Scholars are eligible for $500 scholarships to MSU. Their participation in MSYI also qualifies them for internships, paid fellowships and additional scholarship opportunities. Top students are competitively selected by the World Food Prize Board of Reviewers to represent the state of Mississippi as delegates at the annual World Food Prize International Symposium held in Des Moines, Iowa.

The second annual MSYI welcomed more than a dozen high school students to the MSU campus in March. During the event, participants gained leadership skills and professional experience by connecting with other student leaders and taking part in educational sessions and interactive tours. Furthermore, as students engage with their peers, research and industry experts, state and community leaders, and MSU faculty, they build a valuable network and become more familiar with the MSU campus.

To help increase the significance of the MSYI experience for students and educators who attend, the Madison Charitable Foundation World Food Prize Mississippi Youth Institute Fund was established earlier this year by the organization. The gift will help to defray costs of MSYI including promotional materials, literature and educational resources, meals and transportation, as well as scholarship support for MSYI Borlaug Scholars and stipends for a faculty or staff member to oversee the program. Additionally, a portion of the contribution will be used as a challenge gift to leverage other benefactors to join in supporting MSYI.

“The generous support from the Madison Charitable Foundation for this valuable program is an outstanding demonstration of their commitment to preparing Mississippi’s future leaders who will help overcome challenges in global food security,” said Scott Willard, associate dean and professor for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and state coordinator for MSYI. “Their contribution not only furthers the outreach of the program but also encourages others to invest in this transformative opportunity for our state’s youth.”

The Madison Charitable Foundation was created by Wiley Hatcher in 2007 to benefit Mississippi charities and higher education. Hatcher, a Mississippi native, resided in Port Gibson for more than 25 years before relocating to Houston, Texas.

Private support from alumni and friends of the university, including the Madison Charitable Foundation, is critical to providing influential opportunities and top-notch learning experiences. Such investments directly impact students, empowering them with the knowledge and skills needed to be the innovative leaders and difference-makers of tomorrow. For more information on how to support beneficial programs such as MSYI, contact Jud Skelton, director of development for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, at 662.325.0643 or

By Addie Mayfield