Five Cities, Five Mayors, Five Galas, One Night—$3M Raised for UNCF at Masked Balls

Dallas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Philadelphia all partied and raised funds on March 18

March 18 was a big day for UNCF, as communities across the nation came together for a great cause—education—at UNCF Mayors’ Masked Balls in Dallas, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Philadelphia. A signature fundraiser for UNCF, the Mayors’ Balls are designed to raise public awareness and generate large corporate and individual donations to support deserving students. The events featured a diverse group of elected officials and community influencers, including Mayors Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans; and Philadelphia's Jim Kenney—all who support UNCF’s mission of investing in better futures by getting students to and through college.

“For the first time in history, five Mayors’ Masked Balls took place on the same evening,” said Maurice Jenkins, executive vice president of development, UNCF. “Our mission was amplified through these incredible events taking place on this extraordinary night across the nation. With the support of our mayors and the community, the events collectively raised close to $3 million, which will have a significant impact on students getting to and through college.”

These glamorous affairs also pay homage to members of the community who are trailblazers or who continue to fight for all students to be afforded the opportunity of a high-quality education. For example, attendees in Los Angeles honored American educator Lonnie G. Bunch, III, and those gathered in New Orleans' spotlighted the “Queen of Creole Cuisine” chef Leah Chase, among others, for being beacons of hope for the next generation of leaders.

Read more about these record-breaking accomplishments:

New Orleans

Close to 1,000 business, civic and education leaders joined host Mayor Mitch Landrieu at the fourth annual UNCF New Orleans Mayor’s Masked Ball at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Chaired by Michael Smith, general manager of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans and Joel Vilmenay, general manager of WDSU, the sold-out event raised $1.7 million, including revenue and in-kind support and culminated a year of initiatives designed to provide the resources to get students to and through college. Emceed by native New Orleanians Stan Verrett, anchor, ESPN; and Fox News anchor Arthel Neville, guests partied together for a great cause: education. James Beard Lifetime Award recipient and restaurateur Leah Chase received the Masked Award for her passion for education. Performances included: The Royal Boys Choir, a group of young elementary school students; Grammy Award-winning entertainers, R&B group Kool and the Gang; and PJ Morton, keyboardist for the pop rock band Maroon 5. Contact UNCF New Orleans or click here to donate to support NOLA-area students.



Earning its place among the top performing balls, the event raised $664K prior to the evening, with $84K raised on-site and $150K in-kind support. Held at the Hyatt Dallas, the community came together to help secure better futures for students. Mayor Mike Rawlings, along with event chair Texas State Senator Royce West, welcomed more than 800 guests, including Ambassador Ron Kirk, former U.S. trade representative; Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, City of Plano; Mayor Curtistene McCowan, City of Desoto; and Mike Morath, Texas commissioner of education. The UNCF MASKED Award was presented to Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, senior pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church, for keeping the doorway of opportunity wide open for deserving minority youth. Contact UNCF Dallas or click here to donate to support Dallas-area students.


Los Angeles

Mayor Eric Garcetti welcomed close to 325 guests to the sixth annual ball. Throughout the evening, celebrity guest host Dawnn Lewis kept the room full of excitement. A total of over $500k, including $80k collected during the event, will be used to help our student dividends such as Eric Mason, Fund II Foundation/UNCF Stem Scholar; and Channel McLewis, Gates Millennium Scholar. Mason and McLewis both gave dynamic student testimonials about the impact of UNCF. This year, UNCF Los Angeles honored Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and Marx Cazenave, entrepreneur and Business Hall of Fame inductee. Contact UNCF Los Angeles or click here to donate to support Los Angeles-area students.



Hosted by Mayor James F. Kenney, 600 guests attended the fifth annual Mayor’s Masked Ball held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. With an impressive event opening of $370k raised, an additional $162k was donated through a live auction and an on-site appeal. For their dedication and support of UNCF, the 2017 MASKED recipients included: Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; the Right Bishop Gregory Ingram and Rev. Jessica Ingram of the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and Daniel J. Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross. Contact UNCF Philadelphia or click here to donate to support Philadelphia-area students.



More than 300 business, civic and education leaders from across Wisconsin attended the second annual UNCF Milwaukee Mayor’s Masked Ball at the Milwaukee Art Museum. With great attendance, the event raised $200K, with $51K donated during the paddle raise. The Milwaukee office of UNCF honored three Masked Award recipients for their commitment to advancing higher education: Dr. Howard Fuller, professor of education and director of the Marquette University Institute for the Transformation of Learning; Deborah McGriff, Ph.D., partner, New Schools Venture Fund; and Eric Von, acclaimed broadcast journalist and commentator. Contact UNCF Chicago, who serves Illinois and Wisconsin, or click here to donate to support Milwaukee-area students.

The Mayors’ Masked Balls culminate the end of a successful campaign geared toward shedding light on the lack of resources available for minorities to get to and through college. Visit: Five Galas, One Special Night to view images on Facebook.

To help UNCF continue the great work exemplified on March 18, please contact your local UNCF office.



About UNCF
UNCF (the 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 21 percent 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 motto, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.