In a surprise announcement over the weekend, the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation made a $1 million donation to UNCF (United Negro College Fund). The announcement was made Saturday, March 20, during the New Orleans UNCF Virtual Mayor's Masked Ball, the organization's annual major fundraising event in the area.
Gayle Benson made the announcement to the 1,100 virtual attendees, as she gave her remarks as one of the chairpersons of the event.
"UNCF has made a life-changing difference for over 500,000 individuals in our country for more than 76 years by providing scholarship assistance to under-represented students," Gayle Benson said. "While this is an amazing achievement, there are still may more students in need of the programs and college scholarships UNCF helps provide. I am humbled to make this contribution in support of this great organization and the students who will benefit from these scholarships in our community."
The gift will provide critical scholarships and support to assist minority students from Louisiana and across the United States who will become future educators, scientists, physicians, public servants, environmentalists and researchers.
"We are grateful for this million-dollar investment from the Gayle and Tom Benson Foundation. It will empower students in Louisiana who face financial challenges to remain on their path to obtain a college education," said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF's president and CEO. "This substantial gift is much needed and will have a lasting impact on our students and their ability to succeed in life."
A recent UNCF survey of more than 5,000 students across 17 HBCUs found that many are dealing with difficulties such as sick family members, trouble paying bills and general stress from the ongoing pandemic and recent protests against police brutality. Support is needed now more than ever as students and institutions are faced with challenges including Covid-19 and racial disparities.
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. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. 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.