UNCF Raises Millions in Funding to Support HBCUs and Their Students

March Madness was huge success

Washington, D.C., April 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nearly $9 million was raised during the fundraising season affectionately known as “March Madness” to support historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the students they service, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) announced today.

March Madness is UNCF’s special time of year to host annual galas and masked balls every week. They are premier fundraising and social events, focusing on raising public awareness of the importance of supporting deserving students, and generating large corporate and individual donations to help these students meet the expenses of a higher education. Hosted by a diverse group of corporate sponsors and local businesses, the events involve celebrities, dignitaries, civic leaders, volunteers, public officials, alumni and others who support UNCF’s mission of investing in better futures for us all by empowering students to get to and through college.

2023 was exceptional.

The season kicked off in the nation’s capital with the “A Mind is…”® Gala raising more than $1 million. This year’s President’s Award recognized Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, former president of UNCF-member institutions Spelman College and Bennett College; the Frederick D. Patterson Award was presented to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer; and Delta Air Lines received the Keeper of the Flame Award.

More than 500 guests were entertained by Ms. Leandra Gaston-Ellis, who performed on Broadway as “Tina” in “The Tina Turner Musical.”

Here’s a recap of the other events taking place across the country throughout March Madness to raise funds for the continued growth and development of HBCUs:

March 4
Birmingham: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
The Birmingham UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball is a premier fundraising gala and major social event focusing on raising awareness of the need and benefits of a college education, the students UNCF serves and the contributions of historically Black colleges and universities. The ball raised $553,000 and attracted more than 800 in attendance. Honorees included Jerome Luke, senior vice president, business banking governance and credit policy, Regions Bank; LeVoria Bushelon, president, Bushelon Funeral Home; Leroy Abrahams, executive vice president, community affairs, Regions Bank; Landon Ash, chief executive officer, Xtreme Concepts, Inc; and Liz Hemberg, chief operations officer, Xtreme Concepts, Inc.

Greenville, SC: UNCF Upstate Mayor’s Masked Ball
This year’s event raised $168,572 and attracted 400 guests. Honorees included Greenville native, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and former South Carolina Governor Richard W. Riley.

San Francisco: UNCF “A Mind is…”® Gala
This must-attend stellar San Francisco event raised $595,000 and drew 500 guests. The Corporation of the Year honoree was Blue Shield of California. The gala was the culmination of a week of donor engagement activities in partnership with the UNCF Tech Entrepreneurship Summit, UNCF Vice President for STEM Education Initiatives Chad Womack. HBCU faculty and 100 student scholars including aspiring tech entrepreneurs participated in the summit. Earlier that week, current donors and special guests were invited to a private dinner presentation to discuss strategies for amassing Silicon Valley Black wealth in support of seeding and expanding African American tech entrepreneurship at HBCUs.

Guests attending the gala were serenaded by the Bay Area's own "The Whispers".

March 9
Boston: UNCF New England “A Mind is…”® Gala
A record breaking $750,000 plus was raised to support HBCUs and to advance educational and career opportunities for young people of color. UNCF New England presented the “Leadership Award” to John B. Hynes, III, founder and CEO, Boston Global Investors, for his commitment to developing spaces that are inclusive to all; the “Corporate Partner Award” to Vertex Pharmaceuticals, accepted by Dr. Reshma Kewalramani, CEO, for its commitment to ensuring more talented minorities have a path to the life sciences industry; and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Clemmie and Dr. James Cash for their commitment to advancing Black educational and economic mobility.

The Boston Gala featured a rare moment with the three owners of the city’s top professional sports teams in attendance. Jonathan Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots; Wyc Grousbeck, owner of the Boston Celtics; and Linda and John Henry, owners of the Boston Red Sox were among the more than 300 guests.

March 11
Portsmouth, VA: UNCF Hampton Roads Mayors’ Masked Ball
A record crowd of nearly 650 guests raised $365,500 to help more students attend and complete college. This popular event was hosted by the mayors of the seven cities of the Hampton Roads area. Local mayors and public officials in attendance included Honorable Shannon E. Glover, City of Portsmouth; Honorable Donnie R. Tuck, City of Hampton; Honorable Kenneth Cooper Alexander, City of Norfolk; Honorable Phillip D. Jones, City of Newport News; Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott; State Senator L. Louise Lucas; Delegates Don Scott and Angela Williams Graves; and several local city council members and other officials. The 2023 honorees were Michael Berlucchi, community relations manager, Chrysler Museum of Art; Pastor Emeritus Joe B. Fleming, Third Baptist Church; Dr. Johnny J. Garcia, founder and CEO, SimIS Inc.; Dr. Angela D. Reddix, founder, CEO and president, A.R.D.X.; and Fairlead Integrated.

March 16
A Mind Is…® Reception
Detroit, MI
After a 15-year hiatus, UNCF’s Michigan office hosted its Inaugural “A Mind Is…”® Detroit Reception at the Detroit Tigers Club in Comerica Park.  Approximately 100 corporate partners, educators, religious leaders and community influencers attended and helped raise $85,000.

The event’s honorees were Benjamin Bohannon, marketing manager, customer loyalty programs and cross-channel incentives, General Motors, and Frederiek Toney, president, global customer service division (retired), Ford Motor Company.

March 18
Milwaukee: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
After a three-year hiatus, the Milwaukee community came 300 strong to the Milwaukee Arts Museum to support UNCF and HBCUs. The event featured testimonials from two Milwaukee UNCF student scholars Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, a graduate of Fisk University, and Dr. Valerie Daniels-Carter, CEO of V & J Holdings, who were among the honorees and received the UNCF Milwaukee Mayor’s Masked Ball Awards. With sponsorships and donations, the event raised $300K.

 March 23
New York: UNCF “A Mind Is...”® Gala
More than $700,000 was raised to support HBCUs and help uplift more students of color to achieve college degree completion. More than 400 attended including special guests the legendary Gayle King, co-host, CBS Mornings, and editor at large, Oprah Daily; Kim Godwin, president, ABC News; Tiki Barber, NFL ON CBS analyst and co-host of WFAN's “Tiki &Tierney”; Ed Lewis, co-founder, Essence Magazine; Rev. Dr. Lakeesha Walrond, National Faith Committee member; and Grammy nominated singer and songwriter, Kenny Lattimore.

UNCF New York was proud to present its Leadership Award to Kevin Liles, chairman and CEO, 300 Elektra Entertainment, an HBCU alumnus from Morgan State University; our Legacy Partner Award to the Colgate Palmolive Company, accepted by Prabha Parameswaran Group president, growth and strategy; our Corporate Partner Award to Ralph Lauren, accepted by “Dee” Tejada, head of global diversity, equity and inclusion, social partnerships and philanthropy, executive development and learning.

March 25
Columbus, GA: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
Hosted by former Georgia Rep. Calvin Smyre and the honorable Skip and Mrs. Karon Henderson, mayor of Columbus, this year’s ball raised more than $194,000 and was attended by 840 guests. The ball will honor Charles Huff, owner, Charles E. Huff International Funeral Home; Lula Huff, tax commissioner, Muscogee County; and Pamela S. Williams, founder, owner and CEO, Peaceful River Residence Services.

Charlotte: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
Hosted by the Honorable Vi Alexander Lyles, mayor of Charlotte, the 2023 Ball raised $1.5 million, the highest in the March Madness fundraising season. More than 800 attended to honor Ric Elias, co-founder and CEO, Red Ventures; and Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO, Atrium Health.

In attendance were Congresswoman Alma Adams, Dr. Paulette Dillard, President Shaw University, Dr. Christine McPhail, president, St. Augustine’s University, Clarence Armbrister, president, Johnson C. Smith University.

New Orleans: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
The UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball, one of New Orleans’ signature fundraising galas and premier social events of the year, raised more than $635,000 and was attended by 650 guests. The event Chairs were Michael O. Smith, general manager, Hyatt Regency New Orleans, and Gayle Benson, owner, New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. Hosted by the honorable LaToya Cantrell, mayor of New Orleans, this year’s event honored Henry L. Coaxum, Jr., president of Coaxum Enterprises, Inc.; and Paul Flower, president and CEO of Woodward Design+Build, LLC.

Philadelphia: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
It seemed the entire city attended to celebrate Mayor James F. Kenney's eighth and final hosting of UNCF’s annual mayor’s masked ball in Philadelphia, which has become the city’s premier social event. More than 800 attended the 11th mayor’s masked ball and helped raise $771,000 to support UNCF and HBCUs.

Joining the mayor was Philadelphia's first female African American Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw; newly appointed Superintendent of Schools Tony Watlington; Managing Director Tumar Alexander; and U.S. Congressman Dwight Evans.  Also present were the presidents of the two local HBCUs, Aaron Walton, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Brenda Allen, Lincoln University.

The ball’s award recipients were Allison Green Johnson, president and CEO, Lincoln Financial Group Foundation; Reginald W. Wilkes, former Philadelphia Eagle and SVP, Janney Montgomery Scott L.L.C.; and Corporate Champion T.D. Bank.

Seattle: UNCF “A Mind is…”® Gala
The Seattle gala attracted 890 guests and raised $970,000. The Gala is one of UNCF’s signature fundraising galas and premier social events of the year in Seattle. This year’s event honored Melissa Waggener Zorkin, Global CEO and founder, WE Communications; The Divine 9 and Teague Design Corporation.

March 31
Jacksonville: UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball
The second annual Mayor’s Masked Ball supporting Edward Waters University was a smashing success. Hosted by the honorable Lenny Curry, mayor of Jacksonville. This year’s Champion of Education honoree was John D. Baker, II, executive chairman and CEO, FRP Holdings, Inc. The ball was attended by 350 guests and raised $325,410.


About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.


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