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Beyonce and Jay-Z give homeless Federal Way teen $100,000 for college

Beyonce and Jay-Z perform in Cleveland in 2016.
Beyonce and Jay-Z perform in Cleveland in 2016. AP

Federal Way teenager Khairi Perry went to Thursday’s Beyonce/Jay-Z concert in Seattle just expecting to have a good time.

He left $100,000 wealthier.

Perry, 17, was awarded a six-figure college scholarship at the concert by the BeyGood and Shawn Carter Foundations. BeyGood was started by Beyonce, and Shawn Carter is her husband Jay-Z’s real name.

For Perry, the award is life-changing.

“It’s mind boggling,” he told The News Tribune Sunday. “All my focus is on graduating high school and getting into college and pursing my dream.”

Perry had no idea he was being considered for the scholarship.

“I was lost in the moment until my name was called,” Perry said.

For the last four years, Perry has been living in motels, shelters and with family.

“Currently, I’m living with friends,” he said Sunday.

Perry told the Federal Way Mirror in 2017 that he and his family had lived in their car from time to time.

“Even when I got older and started to understand my situation, I still didn’t ask questions because I figured no one could answer them,” Perry told the Mirror. “I would try to find an answer myself. When that was a dead end, it was school and sports that were there for me.”

His situation became so dire he contemplated suicide.

Caring adults — including athletic coaches, Boys & Girls Club staff, his mother and his grandparents — helped Perry see he had a future.

Now a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School where he has 3.5 grade point average, Perry was recently named the King County Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club. That honor netted him a $2,000 scholarship.

Now, Perry volunteers to help the homeless and hungry with the Boys & Girls Club.

He hopes to attend the University of Oregon to major in chemical engineering or computer science, he said.

Perry is one of 11 high school seniors from across the country who were given $100,000 scholarships by Beyonce and Jay-Z.

The surprise announcement was video-recorded and posted to beyonce.com.

“I’m so grateful. I feel so empowered,” Perry said on the video, moments after he was surprised with the announcement. “I’ll be able to go to college. Any college I want.”

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor
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