By Georgette C. R. Johnson
Pay It Forward. It has its own hashtag, movement and popular campaign but for Detroit businessman, philanthropist, author and co-owner of Real Times Media, Dr. William F. Pickard, it is a way of life. Dr. Pickard and cousin Cincinnati businessman, Judson W. Pickard Jr., have donated $2 million to Morehouse College to launch the creation of the Pickard Scholars Program, a new scholarship to recruit and support students from metro Detroit, Flint, greater Cincinnati, and LaGrange, Georgia, their childhood hometown.
Dr. Pickard and Judson both have children who have graduated from Morehouse and Spelman colleges in Atlanta, Georgia. “People have uplifted and helped me grow and I believe in blessing others,” said Dr. Pickard. “Our gifts are given to where we are from and those who have invested in us and who we are.”
Morehouse College is the nation’s largest liberal arts institution for men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 2,200 students and is the nation’s top producer of black men who go on to receive doctorates. Morehouse is also the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs with five Morehouse Men receiving the honor.
“We are committed to helping African American men thrive as leaders, scholars, and future businessmen,” said Judson W. Pickard Jr. “Morehouse College’s mission is focused on developing men who are committed to academic excellence, community service, and leadership. This partnership aligns with our family’s vision and values on the impact of historically black colleges on student success.”
Judson Pickard has been in the restaurant industry for 40 years. He and his family own and operate a number of McDonald’s franchises in the greater Cincinnati area. He began that business after serving as a Milwaukee Public Schools teacher and a project manager for the Detroit Urban League. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Lane College.
Dr. Pickard began his 47-year entrepreneurial career as a McDonald’s franchise owner in Detroit. He is CEO of Bearwood Management McDonald’s, as well as co-managing partner for MGM Grand Detroit Casino.
In addition, Dr. Pickard serves as chairman and founder of the multi-billion-dollar business enterprise GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management and GAA New Ventures. Since its founding in 1989, GAA has generated more than $5 billion dollars in sales with eight plants in the U.S. and Canada, and services corporations such as Boeing, Mercedes Benz, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Delphi, Johnson Controls, Starbucks, Home Depot, and Merck Pharmaceutical. Pickard is also co-owner of Real Times Media, a multimedia company focused on content expressly for the African American community.
Dr. Pickard’s business acumen and wealth have not diminished his humility and passion to serve and help others. In fact, it’s only served to inspire the opposite. “I have been blessed with a stellar career and if you take care of people who have taken care of you, then you will continue to be blessed,” said Dr. Packard. “I came to Detroit with literally nothing and people uplifted me to help me grow.”
“We appreciate the generous support of the Pickard family,” said David A. Thomas, President of Morehouse College. “This gift will help our students from LaGrange, Georgia and the greater Detroit, Flint and Cincinnati areas to get the financial help necessary to afford a Morehouse education and stay in school until they complete their graduation requirements. We are honored to partner with the Pickard family and applaud their work in the community as entrepreneurs and philanthropists.”
“As the nation’s only historically black college for men, Morehouse College has a legacy that is unparalleled,” said Monique Dozier, Vice President of the Office of Institutional Advancement. “The College has produced leaders and game-changers in every discipline. Supporting educational opportunities at this fine institution provides first-generation college students and other scholars with financial needs a path to success that will impact future generations.”
The Morehouse gift is just one of several millions of dollars Dr. Pickard has given to colleges, universities, non-profits and museums inclusive of the National Museum of African-American History, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, the Motown Museum, Western Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Grand Valley State, Wayne State and Mott Community College.
“Detroit is unique,” said Dr. Pickard. “We go beyond reasonableness to help people and as God orders our steps, we bless others along the way.”