A Night of Celebration and Recognition — UNCF’s National A Mind Is…® Gala

Every year UNCF raises funds to empower thousands of deserving students to earn college degrees at their national A Mind Is…® Gala. Last Thursday, all 37 presidents of UNCFmember colleges and universities, civic leaders and national celebrities dined and celebrated at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel grand ballroom in Washington, DC.  

Nancy Pelosi at podium

Speaker Nancy Pelosi


Special guest Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives shared some words of appreciation prior to the event in honor of U.S. Rep. James Clyburn and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who both were awarded the UNCF Frederick D. Patterson Award, recognizing their courageous sacrifices and steadfast commitment to serve the country.


Mignon clyburn at podium

Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Rep. James Clyburn, accepts award. (Earl Gibson III via AP)

“It is a great honor to join the friends and leaders of UNCF to recognize two of our nation’s most extraordinary civil rights champions, Whip James Clyburn and the Conscience of the Congress, Congressman John Lewis, in this year that marks 55 years since the march from Selma,” said Pelosi.  



“As we observe this milestone and celebrate 76 years of UNCF’s outstanding success, we must all recommit to the fight to expanding opportunities and advancing justice for communities of color and for all Americans, and to building the more perfect union that generations of courageous Americans have sacrificed to build.”

Andre Carson at podium

Indiana Cong. Andre Carson accepts award for Rep. John Lewis. (Earl Gibson III via AP)


Actress and producer Lynn Whitfield graced the stage as host for the evening. DC’s own Mayor Muriel Bowser served as honorary gala chair for the event.  

Lynn Whitfield

Lynn Whitfield


Erika Alexander, activist and actress best known from hit-sitcom, Living Single, also made an appearance. 

Erika Alexander

Erika Alexander


More than $915,000 was raised to support HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and deserving African American students. An additional $30,000 was raised during the event to support HBCUs. Along with the A-list VIP reception, the event featured a seated dinner and a live theatrical performance from KIPP DC College Preparatory.  

KIPP Preparatory students performing

Performance by KIPP Preparatory


Other awardees included the Top Ladies of Distinction (President’s Award), the Procter and Gamble Company (Corporation of the Year), and Lilly Endowment, Inc. (Foundation of the Year).