The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is an organization that helps Black students overcome the obstacles they face when it comes to going to and graduating from college.
During an interview with Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb, who is hosting a luncheon to raise funds for the fund, News 5's Danita Harris shared her first experience with the UNCF.
"I was a little girl watching the Lou Rawls Telethon," she said. "There it is, and just having that message driven into my mind: A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
Bibb said he was first exposed to the UNCF similarly.
"The same thing, watching those Lou Rawls telethons on TV, really talking about the importance of young people, particularly Black people, going to our historically Black colleges and universities to give them a quality shot at life."
Bibb said the UNCF is an organization that is particularly important for young Black people to be aware of, as it can give them a quality shot at life.
Area Director of Development for the UNCF, Steve Miller, explained that the organization has been providing student assistance for minority students since 1944 and has raised over $5 billion to do so. The UNCF is the second largest provider of funds for this purpose, only second to the United States government.
"So we want kids to know that there is hope," Miller said. "There's an organization that provides education. There's a history of people in this community that have gone to historically black colleges that know the history and legacy of UNCF."
Ohio is home to two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Central State University and Wilberforce University, but scholarships are also available for any accredited two to four-year schools, not just HBCUs. Mayor Bibb believes that it's important for minority students to be aware of HBCUs and the UNCF, as it can provide them with a chance to go to a school with students who look like them, share their values and share their lived experiences.
Ohio's HBCUs generate $124 million dollars in total economic impact and create over 1,234 jobs for their local and regional economies. This economic impact includes direct spending by the HBCUs on faculty, academic programs and operations.
"As someone who had to pay for college myself, I know the importance of getting every dollar I could to support my college education, and we want to make sure that our young people across the city get the support they need to go off to college and find a career to achieve their God-given potential," Bibb said.
The 2023 UNCF's Mayor's Luncheon, hosted by Bibb, is being held on Friday, Feb. 3 and will bring together area business, civic and education leaders to support UNCF's work. Harris will emcee the event.
Click here for more information and to purchase tickets or register as a sponsor.
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