UNCF ‘A Mind Is …’ Hamptons Summer Benefit Raises More than $60,000

Written by MCJStaff   // September 12, 2013   // 0 Comments

Maurice E. Jenkins Jr., honoree Sylvia Woods, Early Reese and Fred D. Mitchell
(Photos by Margot Jordan)

By Audrey J. Bernard

On a beautiful sun-drenched Saturday, August 24, 2013, many New York business, civic and community leaders headed to tony East Hampton to attend the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) second annual “A Mind Is …” Hamptons Summer Benefit held at the East Hampton Point Resort to celebrate education and encourage supporters to continue to invest in better futures for African American students by ensuring they receive the education they need as they prepare to become the leaders of the 21stcentury.  Themed “Investing In Better Futures for Students Now Will Pay Future Dividends,” the event raised more than $60,000.

The “A Mind Is …” Hamptons Summer Benefit was hosted by the UNCF Leadership Council of New York and featured waterfront cocktails, dinner and smart conversation with proceeds benefitting UNCF’s educational initiatives.  This harmonious Hamptons happening was sponsored by Carol’s Daughter, House of Mandela Fine Wines and UPTOWN Magazine.

“On behalf of UNCF and the students we serve, I want to thank everyone who came out and supported our young people through this wonderful event.  They are the reason we are able to support more than 60,000 students each year through 13,000 scholarships under 400 programs,” said Maurice Jenkins, senior vice president of UNCF.  “We need to invest in their dreams through a new philanthropy that will pay dividends for them, and for all of us.”

The celebratory event also featured the induction of key supporters in the “A Mind Is …” Giving Society in recognition of their unwavering support for UNCF education initiatives.  Inductees included:

Sylvia Woods; broker/owner, Heritage Real Estate Services, Inc.; Toyanna Mayo; deputy chief compliance officer, Perella Weinberg and member, UNCF Leadership Council of New York; Roderick A. Hardamon; North America head of Citigroup Alternative Investment Services and vice chairman, UNCF Leadership Council of New York; Andwele Lewis; vice president, Morgan Stanley; Shyra Smart; director of strategy and operations, Viacom Networks; Camille Clark; wife of noted cardiologist Dr. Luther Clark; Dr. William J. Gibbs, physician and member, UNCF Leadership Council of New York.

“On behalf of UNCF and the students we serve, I want to thank everyone who came out and supported our young people through this wonderful event. They are the reason we are able to support more than 60,000 students each year through 13,000 scholarships under 400 programs,” said Maurice Jenkins, senior vice president of UNCF. “We need to invest in their dreams through a new philanthropy that will pay dividends for them, and for all of us.”

The “A Mind Is …” Hamptons Summer Benefit was hosted by the UNCF Leadership Council of New York. Sylvia and Kenneth Woods, owners of legendary Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem attended, as did Camille Clark and members of the Metro Manhattan Chapter of The Links.  Dr. Luther Clark, global director, Merck Scientific Affairs, Olympic fencing champion Keeth Smart and Nicole Christie of NBC’s “Fashion Star” and H&M communications executive also attended the event.

Events such as the Hamptons Summer Benefit are a call to action.  While a college education is more important than ever, it is becoming more difficult than ever to get.  The number of students applying for UNCF scholarships increased to 64,421 in 2012 from 59,008 in 2011 – an 8% increase.

During his recent college affordability tour, President Barack Obama pointed out that the cost of college tuition has risen 250% over the past 30 years, while the average family income has only risen 16% during that same time.  Students need financial support and strong academics, as well a college-going culture that enlists families, schools and communities to help them get to their destination.

In his remarks, President Obama previewed a far-reaching higher education reform plan that includes a goal that historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have embraced for 150 years — enabling more low-income and minority students to obtain a high-quality higher education. More than 75 percent of students attending UNCF member institutions are Pell-eligible students, who rely on financial assistance from UNCF and the federal government to attend college.

The President’s higher education proposals are serious ones that have the potential to help postsecondary progress for African American students for decades to come.  There are some aspects of these proposals that are promising; for example, providing incentives to colleges to enroll and graduate more Pell-eligible students and offering greater assistance to students to help them manage student loan debt payments based on income.

Nonetheless, higher education reforms enacted through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act must support the work of UNCF member institutions, not undermine it.

UNCF does not yet have sufficient details on the Administration’s plan to know how a college rating system might impact HBCUs.  But, the organization does know that designing a rating system that is beneficial to low-income students and fair to institutions that serve them is a complex matter. Moreover, linking the allocation of federal student aid, upon which low-income and minority students must rely, to college performance metrics is a high-stakes proposition likely to penalize both financially needy students and institutions if not done carefully.

UNCF will engage board members, member presidents and staff to fully examine the President’s proposals in order to protect the interests of UNCF member institutions and the students they serve.  In addition, UNCF will establish an internal working group to develop an action plan to work with the Administration, Congress and like-minded organizations as the Higher Education Act reauthorization process unfolds.

UNCF will identify which of the Administration’s higher education reform ideas are promising, which ones are punishing and which ones portend unintended consequences. UNCF will also identify other proposals that should be considered, including additional investments to expand the capacity of HBCUs that these reform proposals may require.

UNCF appreciates that the President is publicly outlining his higher education reform plan through a national conversation, soliciting stakeholder input and providing time for the higher education community to evaluate and assess these proposals.  UNCF supports this public and transparent process, which was not the case with the recent eligibility changes to the Parent PLUS Loan program that negatively impacted HBCUs.

The nation’s future will be strengthened by enabling more low-income and minority students to go to and through college, and ultimately contributing to the American economy.  UNCF is ready to work with the Obama Administration and the Congress to meet this challenge.

UNCF 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, 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 20 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 900 colleges and universities.


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