UNCF National “A Mind Is…” Gala to Honor Champions for HBCUs

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Game-changing HBCU alumni White House correspondent April Ryan, Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon and UNCF campaign contributor Oracle Corporation to be honored at March 8 event

On March 8, at the Grand Hyatt New York beginning at 6 p.m., the UNCF national “A Mind Is…” gala continues its tradition of honoring community leaders for their game-changing education advocacy through partnerships with UNCF and their own work. This year’s honorees, who through their sacrifice and determination have led the charge in championing for a quality education for all, include White House correspondent April Ryan (Shirley Chisholm Award), Tony Award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon (President’s Award) and the Oracle Corporation (President’s Award).

For being a voice for the unheard, April Ryan will receive the Shirley Chisolm Award. Like Shirley Chisholm, Ryan’s career has been a series of firsts and singular achievements: the only black female reporter among the White House correspondents, one of only three African Americans to have served on the board of the White House Correspondents’ Association, and the National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalist of the Year. Ryan, a graduate of HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) Morgan State continues to use her platform to fight for change in this country, exemplifying the kind of leaders and achievers that America’s historically black colleges and universities produce.

The President’s Award, an honor conferred upon those who have shaped the African American story by embodying the values and aspirations that UNCF represents or making significant contributions to providing UNCF students the resources they need to go to and through college, will be bestowed to two beacons of hope for the next generations of leaders.

Tony Award-winning Broadway director Kenny Leon has built a remarkable career in stage and television on the foundation of a degree from one of UNCF’s foremost member HBCUs, Clark Atlanta University. His Alliance Theatre Company and True Colors Theatre Company were critical milestones in Atlanta’s theatrical and cultural resurgence and have been recognized with the Georgia Arts & Entertainment Legacy Award. Through his award-winning interpretations of the work of Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson, the lens into the lives of African Americans is wider, ultimately creating a broader community of students and educators.

Oracle, one of UNCF’s largest corporate contributors, supports UNCF’s National Technology Enhancement Campaign, enabling UNCF’s network of HBCUs to keep pace with rapidly developing technology, improve their operational efficiency, and realize significant cost savings. Oracle Academy has sponsored UNCF’s HBCU ICE (Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship) Summit, part of a national movement to drive innovation, entrepreneurship and access for African American communities in the worlds of technology and science. And, for more than a decade, Oracle has been an important investor in UNCF’s scholarship programs, contributing over $7 million.

The UNCF-Oracle partnership is helping students of color get the education they need to prepare for careers in the technology industry and providing a model for other companies that share UNCF’s and Oracle’s commitment to the diverse, college-educated workforce the 21st century demands.

“This will be an impactful evening, because our HBCUs and our students need our support more than ever before,” said Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “We’ll be paying tribute to shining examples who have not only fought for change, but who activated others to fight for change. But, more importantly, we will raise our honorees up as examples of how individuals, organizations and corporations can change lives and change the country … and activate the rest of us to follow their example.”

More than 800 education leaders, community influencers and civic officials, including master of ceremonies, correspondent for “EXTRA” and HBCU Howard University alum AJ Calloway will come together to raise funding for students, culminating an end-of- the-year campaign focused on enlightening the country on the importance and significant impact of HBCUs.

For more information, please call the UNCF New York office at (212) 820 -0140 or email annualgala@uncf.org. Also, visit UNCF.org/newyorkgala for continuous updates and news.

To view images from the 2017 UNCF “A Mind Is…” Gala, please visit: UNCF New York gala

Follow UNCF on social media: @uncf #AMIGala

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, 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 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and 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 more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “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. #AMIGala

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Monique Lenoir
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