New York UNCF 80th Anniversary “A Mind Is…”® Gala Raises Nearly $950,000 for HBCUs and Students

Media Contact

Diego Aviles UNCF Vice President, Northeast Division 347.582.5035

(Left to Right) Kevin Liles, chairman and CEO, 300 Elektra Entertainment; Tony Signore, CEO and managing partner, Taylor Global; Kim Godwin, president, ABC News; Caroline A Wanga, president and CEO, Essence Ventures; Fawn Weaver, CEO and founder, Uncle Nearest, Inc., and Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) hosted its local “A Mind Is…”® New York Gala celebrating its 80th anniversary on Thursday, March 21 , 2024, at the Ziegfeld Ballroom with 500 guests in attendance. Nearly $950,000 was raised to support UNCF’s important work to uplift historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and help advance educational opportunities to ensure that more deserving, talented students reach their fullest potential.

UNCF presented its “Trailblazer Award” to Essence, which was accepted by Caroline A. Wanga, president and CEO, Essence Ventures; “Leadership Award” to Tony Signore, CEO and managing partner, Taylor Global, & founder, Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship; and “Shirley Chisholm Award” to Fawn Weaver, CEO and founder, Uncle Nearest, Inc., for their steadfast support of HBCUs and commitment to Black educational equity and economic mobility.

The occasion included HBCU prominent alumni and UNCF 80th Anniversary Co-Chairs Kevin Liles, chairman and CEO, 300 Elektra Entertainment and Kim Godwin, president, ABC News and special guests: Michelle Miller, co-host, “CBS Saturday Morning”; DeMarco Morgan, co-anchor, “Good Morning America 3”; New York City Mayor Eric L. Adams; Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF; Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence Magazine and chairman and publisher emeritus of Essence Communications; Dr. Rochelle Ford, president, Dillard University; Dr. Leroy Staggers, president, Morris College; Dr. Reynold Verret, president, Xavier University of Louisiana; and Nettie Washington Douglass and Kenneth Morris Jr., direct descendants of Frederick Douglass and co-founders of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. The evening also featured a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, sung by Natasha Yvette Williams, Tony®-nominated, Grammy®  award-winning actress; and lively entertainment by the dynamic music group WanMor.

The celebration of UNCF’s 80-year legacy of strengthening our nation’s HBCUs and empowering African American students through higher education was most inspiring from the heartfelt acceptance remarks delivered by the honorees to the energy exuded in the ballroom by all the enthusiastic guests.

“As UNCF celebrates its 80 years of success, we continue fueling HBCUs with vital resources to educate generations of African American and other minority students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “Thanks to the generous support and commitment of our donors, we are looking ahead to the next 80 years as we help underrepresented students go to and through college into successful careers. We thank everyone in New York that participated in the ‘“A Mind Is…’” Gala to help ensure better futures for us all.”

“For eight decades, UNCF has brought individuals of all backgrounds together to uplift our nation’s historically Black colleges and universities and students so they can thrive,” said Diego Aviles, vice president, Northeast Division, UNCF. “As UNCF embarks upon its next chapter, we invite others to continue ‘“walking as one’” with UNCF on a path of unity for the betterment of our HBCUs and students.”

Sponsors included platinum sponsor, Taylor Global; gold sponsors, Delta Air Lines, PepsiCo and Wells Fargo; silver sponsors, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Citi, Colgate-Palmolive Company, MetLife, Moody’s, NBA, Ralph Lauren and Sony Corporation of America; and bronze sponsors, NFL, Paramount, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of New York, Schroders, TIAA and Uncle Nearest.

To donate or learn more about UNCF and its initiatives, please visit


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, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. 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 50,000 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 or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.