From foster care to over $1m in scholarships, Derrius Quarles now helps other students afford an education

Theodora Aidoo October 15, 2019
Pic Credit: Derrius Quarles

Born and bred on the South Side of Chicago, Derrius Quarles was a product of the foster care system for 13 years before successfully securing $1 million dollars in scholarships.

By age 19, he had founded his first company.

Quarles, a graduate of Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago, won more than $1 million in scholarship offers, including a full ride at Morehouse. He won full scholarships to five universities.

According to Mark Kantrowitz, who runs a website that tracks college aid, Quarles is one of about a dozen students nationwide to garner such a bounty.

This stride for Quarles did not come on a platter of gold. When Quarles was 4-years-old, his father was reportedly stabbed to death with a pocketknife in a fight and his mother struggled with drugs.

Left alone with his brother without parental care for hours, the brothers had to shoplift bread and snacks from a convenience store. “We had to fend for ourselves the best we knew how,” Quarles said. “My brother really stepped up as an older brother. He never left my side,” he added.

At age 5, Quarles entered foster-care and moved from one home to another until he attained the age of 16 when he began living on his own in Chicago.

By age 27, Quarles had been able to leverage technology to grow multiple companies that are currently improving the lives of various marginalized groups.

“Experiencing poverty first-hand provided all the motivation I needed to hustle. Selling snacks at Kenwood Academy High School freshman year would spark my passion for building businesses,” he revealed.

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Darrius Quarles, founder and CEO, Million Dollar Scholar. Pic Credit: Chicago Tribune

He went on to write a book titled “Million Dollar Scholar: Winning The Scholarship Race” which is helping thousands of students across the globe gain knowledge on how to secure scholarships and grants that will afford them education.

Today, Quarles is celebrated as an award-winning author, social entrepreneur, writer, speaker and creative who has impacted the lives of over 25,000 youth across all 50 states in America.

Being the co-Founder and CEO of the financial services company, BREAUX Capital, Quarles said he assists “the 70% of Black millennials who would not be able to afford a $1,000 financial emergency enhance their financial health through a powerful combination of software that automates savings behavior and education through a peer community.”

Quarles is also the founder and CEO of Million Dollar Scholar, an education technology social enterprise.

“Every year since 2013 Million Dollar Scholar has grown and today we partner with schools to deliver high impact guidance to their student bodies and provide mentor-driven one-on-one coaching to hundreds of families. I help low-income high school students acquire scholarships to pursue higher education,” the enterprise said on its website.

Quarles also doubles as a brand architect and founder of DQ and Partners, a web design agency, partnering with emerging business and influencer brands that are improving communities in the fields of education, technology, health, art, and equity. 

The 29-year-old explained that he got his inspiration from the humbling honor he received from Harry Belafonte at the 2012 Common Ground Gala hosted by musician and actor, Common.

At the event, Mr. Belafonte told the audience that “Derrius is the dream Dr. King and I, as well as so many others, fought for…”.

“Since that evening, I have decided to carry the metaphoric torch that he handed to me,” Quarles said.

In 2015, he was honored by Barack Obama at the White House for his activism in expanding educational access. He was further named Black Enterprise’s 100 Modern Men in 2017. 

He also delivered a TED Talk on the role large banks have played in economically marginalizing Black Americans and the innovation BREAUX Capital represents in the marketplace for Black millennials.

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Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: October 16, 2019


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