When Lydia Winkfield returned to college to finish her senior year, she didn't have enough money to pay for all the courses she needed to graduate.

"I had been back in school two or three weeks when they told me I had been awarded a scholarship for $600," Winkfield said. Because of the money, Winkfield was able to complete her education at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., where she was graduated last summer. She now is preparing for the Peace Corps.

The scholarship funds came from the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), a non-profit social service agency that serves the District's near northeast community where the city's highest percentage of old and poor people live.

Winkfield, a resident of the near Northeast, is one of 16 young persons from the area who have received $300 to $600 in college scholarships from the Martin Luther King scholarship program, according to Vincent Hodge, employment counselor at CIC.

"The scholarship fund was established in 1971 to help deserving, needy youth in our area to further their education beyond high school," Hodge said. "The 16 scholarships we have awarded have gone to students from the three high schools in our area - Eastern, Spingarn and Phelps."

The scholarship money all has been raised through benefits, according to Hodge.

"We're planning to award $1,000 scholarships this year," he said, "and we're planning the biggest fund-riser we've ever had. This year, we will present the first lady of gospel, Evengelist Shirley Caesar and the Caesar Singers in a concert at Constitution Hall, Sunday." (The concert will be at 3 p.m.)

"If the community supports this fund-raiser," he added, "the scholarships can be increased to $1,000 and we can make the scholarship program self-sustaining. Right now, we're having to tap other sources to get enough to support the program."

Winkfield is among those who knows what the scholarship program can mean. She had managed to complete three years of college by working and with the aid of other scholarships. But the CIC funds came at a crucial time."

"Coming when it did," she said, "the scholarship money saved my academic career."

Cynthia Price, another Northeast resident, is a junior at Noorfolk State college in Virgini. In 1975, she received a $600 scholarship from the Martin Luther King fund.

Although she worked during the summers to earn money for some expenses, the scholarship was welcomed.

"I used it to pay my tuition," she said. "As much as anything else, the scholarship gave me the feeling that the community was behind me in getting my education."

More information about tne benefit concert may be obtained from CIC at 399-4200 or 399-6900.