Isley Brothers singer plans benefit for full-ride scholarships to Harris-Stowe

ST. LOUIS • Get on your boogie shoes.

Ron Isley, the lead singer of The Isley Brothers, is enlisting a few of his famous friends for a benefit to raise two full-ride scholarships for Harris-Stowe State University students.

The effort, dubbed the Ron Isley Initiative, was announced Tuesday morning on the St. Louis campus.

On May 20, Isley's birthday, he and others will host the Legends to Leaders gala at the Peabody Opera House, and all proceeds will go toward Harris-Stowe.

With a granddaughter in college and "understanding the good" that college students do, Isley said he's happy to help. It's too soon to tell who all might join him at the gala, but he mentioned Steve Harvey and Carlos Santana could be part of the event. Isley and Santana have a new, collaborative album coming out around the same time as the gala.

The iconic singer has committed to the annual gala and potentially other events for the next four years, with hopes of raising about $120,000 annually, enough for two full-ride scholarships each year.

The scholarship includes tuition, room, board, textbook costs and a new laptop. The first two recipients will be honored at the gala in May, according to Harris-Stowe President Dwaun Warmack.

Rickey Whittington, president of the R. Whittington Foundation and longtime friend of Isley, helped foster the new initiative.

"It's not just good will, but it's God's will," Whittington said Tuesday morning.