UNCF and Foot Locker: Partners For Education

Think you know all about the hottest fundraising events on the New York circuit?

Try this pop quiz:

Q: You find yourself at New York City’s Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, Manhattan’s largest events venue. You see Yankees legend Bernie Williams, Knicks legend Larry Johnson, Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Frank Ntilikina of the Knicks—all in black tie, but all wearing sneakers. Where are you?

A: You’re at Foot Locker’s annual black-tie-and-sneakers On Our Feet Gala, celebrating the UNCF New York/Foot Locker partnership, which helps to raise funds for the Foot Locker Foundation-UNCF Scholarship Program.

Anyone who’s been to the On Our Feet Gala knows that it’s more than a good time. Over the years, the gala’s sponsor, the Foot Locker Foundation, the charitable arm of sportswear giant Foot Locker and a longtime UNCF partner, has awarded more than 800 scholarships that help students  go to and through college. The foundation also supports UNCF New York’s annual “A Mind Is…” Gala.

Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Prince Amukamara lend support at Foot Locker's On Our Feet gala.
Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Prince Amukamara lend support at Foot Locker’s On Our Feet gala.

And just as the On Our Feet Gala isn’t just any fundraiser, UNCF scholarships like the Foot Locker Foundation-UNCF Scholarship Program aren’t just any scholarships. The 10,000 annual recipients of UNCF scholarships average a 70 percent graduation rate, almost double the 38 percent average graduation rate for all African American college students, and significantly higher than the 57 percent graduation rate for students of all races and ethnicities.

But even the most impressive statistics can’t tell the whole story, the human story of why programs like the Foot Locker Foundation-UNCF Scholarship Program and partnerships like UNCF and Foot Locker’s are so important.

For that you have to ask the students who are going to and through college on one of these scholarships. “Not only has this award helped me pay for my education, but it has humbled me,” Jasmine Nwokedi, a junior at UNCF-member institution Philander Smith University, wrote in a letter to UNCF. “I appreciate that I am only one of few who will not be burdened with the weight of thousands of dollars of debt when I leave college. I want you and Foot Locker Foundation to know that I am truly thankful for this opportunity and do not take it for granted.”

Or ask Dayna Ramsey, a student at UNCF-HBCU Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL, who began her letter to UNCF by quoting Walter Elliott: “’Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another.’  University, internships, and law school are all short races that take time to overcome in an effort to reach my ultimate goal,” wrote Ramsey, “The Foot Locker Scholarship is a part of this long race that will get me one step closer to the finish line.”

The event name, “On Our Feet,” poses a challenge. Together, UNCF and Foot Locker are running the race and meeting the challenge.