Jeffrey Warren, a recent graduate of King High School, in Riverside, California, won a $1,000 scholarship sponsored by the local Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club.
However, the award was meant solely for black students, even though the application instructions for the scholarship only "encouraged African-American students to apply."
During the awarding of the scholarship money, the school audience laughed, says Warren's father Rod: "The laughter was slight at the beginning, then it got louder. You could tell the [award presenters] were surprised, but they shook his hand and gave it to him."
The next morning, Warren, who plans to go to San Diego State, returned the scholarship money.
Etta Brown, the chairwoman of the MLK Senior Citizens Club's scholarships committee, said
the 17-year-old's decision to return the money was "generous."
Warren's former math teacher, Susan Jaggers, has launched a scholarship effort at King High School to raise money for the scholarship that Warren returned.
Jaggers said: "We didn't totally replace the money, but I knew many of [Warren's former teachers] would be willing to throw a few bones. All his teachers love him."
The scholarship has since been awarded to an African-American student who will be attending Cornell University in the fall, reports Yahoo News.