Five scholarship grants of $5,000 each provided by the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation are up for grabs for New York City high school seniors through an essay contest. Applicants are being asked to write about the life of Lewis, the late CEO and chairman of TLC Beatrice International. The deadline for submissions has been extended to Tuesday, Jan. 15.

Students in their senior year at a New York City public school who have demonstrated academic achievement, financial need and an interest in business can submit an essay of approximately 1,000 words. Students are required to have a cumulative average of 80 percent or better throughout their high school tenure in order to enter the essay contest. Students must also demonstrate strong writing skills. Students’ essays must focus on what they can take from Lewis’ life as inspiration and motivation to set high goals for themselves. Details can be found at

The idea for the scholarship was proposed by Loida Lewis, Reginald’s wife, as a celebration of his life and entrepreneurial spirit, and to provide meaningful support to students who embody the late businessman’s commitment to getting ahead through education.

The essay contest is being funded through a grant from the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and is being administered by the New York City Fund for Public Schools. Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Jan. 18.

“As CEO of TLC Beatrice International, Reginald Lewis presided over a business empire that included 64 companies in 31 countries,” said foundation spokesman Butch Meily. “His remarkable career was cut short when he passed away at the age of 50 on January 19, 1993. Today, his name graces the International Law Building at Harvard Law School, a building at Virginia State University and the Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.”

Along with his success as a businessman, Lewis is also remembered for his book “Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? How Reginald Lewis Created A Billion-Dollar Business Empire.” This year marks the 25th anniversary of Lewis’ acquisition of the international division of Beatrice Foods. A special commemorative edition of Lewis’ biography is being reissued.

Lewis died in 1993 at age 50 from brain cancer. He was one of the most successful business leaders and the richest African-American man in the 1980s. Before his death, Lewis had a net worth of $400 million.