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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 13:38 GMT
Alicia Keys awards student funds
Alicia Keys
Keys has won nine Grammy awards for her soul-tinged hip-hop
R&B star Alicia Keys is offering $5,000 (2,532) scholarships to four students heading for higher education in the US.

One student each from Jacksonville, New Orleans, Atlanta and New York City's Harlem neighbourhood will be eligible.

Keys said she was looking for "standout students" who needed a "bit of help financially to achieve their dreams".

The singer, who was raised in Hell's Kitchen, Harlem, won a scholarship to Columbia University aged 16 but turned down her place to pursue music.

Despite a rocky start to her recording career, which saw her signed and dropped by Columbia records, her debut album, Songs In A Minor, was a global success.

It sold more than 12m copies, and won Keys five Grammy awards in 2002.

The singer-songwriter is offering her scholarships through the Frum Tha Ground Up charity, which was set up by her road manager DJ Walton.

The non-profit organisation, based in Jacksonville, Florida, is dedicated to mentoring and motivating youth across the US.

Students selected for Keys' funding will represent the organisation at school appearances and must perform community service each term.

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