Hoping to raise $1 million for scholarships, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is throwing a masked ball, and has selected a bank executive to chair the event.
BBVA Compass Executive Director of Employment Services Carl E. Crosby will help find donors and participants for the event, which benefits students at historically black colleges and universities. “The Masked Ball will bring together those in our community who care about providing access to higher education for students in need of financial assistance. The money we raise from the gala will help fund scholarships, opening the doors to a college education,” Crosby said.
He said the event “will pay dividends for all of us when they [scholarship recipients] become the next generation of leaders here in Birmingham and around the country.”
There are about 25 UNCF scholarship recipients at Miles College in Fairfield for the 2014-2015 school year, said Chanda Temple, representing UNCF. “For many students, UNCF scholarships help them go to school or stay in school,” she said, giving two examples: Rasheed Miles, 22, of Hayneville, Ala., and Devin Jenkins, 21, from Fitzgerald, GA.
Miles “was the first person in his family to go to college,” Temple said. “He enrolled in Miles College to study accounting. But after his first semester, he found himself wondering how he’d pay for the second semester. A campus advisor found a UNCF scholarship she felt was a good fit. He applied and won the scholarship. In 2014, he applied for another UNCF scholarship and received that one, too.”
He graduates from Miles College in May.
Jenkins, a senior honors student at Miles, won a Gates Millennium Scholarship funded by UNCF. “This spring, Jenkins will graduate with a 4.0 and later start a new job with GE Healthcare in Milwaukee, Wis. in the company’s information technology leadership program,” Temple said. “That program is a two-year track that involves training overseas, exposure to executive leadership in the company and the pursuit of a master’s from Indiana University.”
An advocate for UNCF, Jenkins is president of the fund’s Pre-Alumni Council, which raises money for the fund.
According to Walvid King, area development director for the Birmingham UNCF office, the UNCF event this year will benefit about 300 students. Most of the money raised — 90 percent — will go to UNCF programs and scholarships, with only 10 percent devoted to administrative costs, he said.
UNCF, founded in 1944, has been raising money for black students and institutes of higher learning since the days of widespread legal segregation. Times have changed — black students are no longer subject to the same restrictions regarding where they can go to college — but King said that both the UNCF and historically black colleges and universities remain needed today.
“As we continue to deal with the question of relevance, it’s very important to remember that HBCUs provide students a sense of being and a sense of pride as they strive to develop in all areas of life,” King said. “HBCUs have a proven track record of producing some of our nation’s most talented corporate and community leaders. We must support their ability to continue that work.”
The UNCF Masked Ball will be held 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, at the Birmingham Sheraton ballroom downtown. For information about sponsorship and tickets, contact the Birmingham UNCF office at (205) 322-8623 or visit give.UNCF.org/Birmingham.