By Ruth Ferguson
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is hosting their third annual North Texas Luncheon on Friday November 20 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency DFW Hotel (inside Terminal C) at DFW Airport.
The keynote speaker is U.S Trade Representative Ambassador Ronald Kirk,the former mayor of the City of Dallas. The monies raised at the luncheon will help students at the five UNCF member institutions
“Funds raised from this event will be a lifeline to students whose college education may be threatened by the recession,” said Diane Stephenson, UNCF’s area development director. “Thousands of UNCF students have seen family contributions reduced or eliminated due to job loss and pay cuts. The credit crunch has squeezed private student loans off the market. Many of these students won’t be able to graduate without additional financial aid. Because a college education can open so many doors, we must do what we can to assist students who have trouble meeting tuition costs.”
The UNCF supports thirty-nine colleges and universities nationally, including five in Texas: Paul Quinn College (Dallas), Texas College (Tyler), Jarvis Christian College (Hawkins), Wylie College (Marshall) and Huston-Tillotson (Austin). UNCF is the largest non-government provider of support to these schools.
Each of the five schools in Texas are private Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). As a result they were not eligible for funding from the American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009 commonly known as the Stimulus Package.
The majority of the money raised in Texas, stays in Texas according to Stephenson. Seventy-five percent of the monies are split among the five schools in Texas with the remaining 25 percent split among all 39 UNCF schools – with each of the Texas schools receiving monies from the pool of 25 percent.
During the 2008-2009 annual campaign, UNCF raised $18 million through their fundraising throughout the country. Donors from New York, California and Michigan provide significant contributions, despite having no member school in their state. Donors can request the funds be made available to students to attend non-member schools, because the organization’s primary mission is education. Last year UNCF awarded nearly $86 million to 9,936 students attending member HBCUs and more than 850 other institutions.
Up to 95 percent of the students at the member institutions require financial aid and 50 percent come form families earning less than $35,000 per year. The mission of UNCF is critical for these students, without the help of donor dollars, higher education and the opportunities it provides would be inaccessible to them.
These families were among those hardest hit by the economic downturn over the last year. Their parents faced reduced hours or layoffs, leaving seniors on the verge of graduation unable to pay the debt already incurred.
To address this problem the UNCF launched the Campaign for Emergency Student Aid with a goal of raising $5 million. The initiative was designed to help recession-impacted students enroll for their senior year and receive their college degree. According to recent announcements UNCF is approaching the midway point at over $2.3 million raised allowing them to assist over 1,200 students.
The monies raised are provided directly to the member schools, primarily to assist with their operating expenses. However, each institution determines their highest priorities and could elect to give more monies students in the form of scholarships.
In addition to providing funding to member schools, UNCF works in partnership with the institutions to strengthen them overall. They provide volunteer leadership training and technology tools. UNCF also helps with advocacy efforts, to aide in securing federal funding from Washington.
The selection of Ambassador Ron Kirk as the Keynote Speaker shines a spotlight on the importance of student’s preparation to engage and contribute in a global economy and workforce.
International students equal about two percent of the population at UNCF member schools. Locally, Paul Quinn College is planning to launch a program abroad that will require study abroad for one year.
The luncheon’s regional sponsor is AT&T and mayors from the local cities will serve as hosts. The program will include remarks from Arlington mayor Robert Cluck; Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is participating via video conference; and currently it is unconfirmed if Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief will participate personally of if the Mayor Pro Tem will represent him.
Paul Quinn College will introduce Ambassador Kirk, and the Texas College choir is scheduled to perform during the lunch portion of the program.
Following the annual luncheon the next major event for UNCF is the Red, Hot and Snazzy Gala scheduled for February 27, 2010 in downtown Dallas.
Sponsorship opportunities start at $3,500. Reserved tables are $1,500. Individual tickets are $125. To order tickets call UNCF office (972) 234-1007.For more information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Diane Stephenson at email@example.com or visit www.uncf.org/dallas.