United Negro College Fund Celebrates 75 Years with New Initiative

Illinois

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At the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) 19th annual “A Mind is…” Gala in Chicago the stalwart Black education non-profit announced college hopefuls will soon have access to $1 million in higher education loan forgiveness.

In partnership with African Pride and JFM Curl Peace, UNCF announced its “UNCF Wear Your Crown with Confidence Loan Forgiveness & Scholarship Program” which will provide $1 million in financial aid debt relief over three years to current students or recent graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) and any four-year accredited university.

Students ages 18-35 who are currently enrolled or graduates and have taken out college loans for undergraduate education are eligible.  Eligible applicants include students who completed their degree in five years or less. Applicants for the one-time need-based program must:

  • Currently have or have possessed a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale at the time of their graduation or during their tenure in school.
  • Have an outstanding, cumulative student loan debt in excess of 40% of their current annual income from all sources, or a current monthly student loan repayment obligation more than 25% of their current monthly income from all sources.

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, said, “We must continue to invest our time and money in better futures for young people around the country. Partners like African Pride and JFM Curl Peace and their house of brands are vitally important to this work and we are pleased to join with them on this initiative.”

Dawn W. Thompson, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of African Pride, JFM Curl Peace, and Dr. Miracle’s, a graduate of Spelman College, said given her family’s close ties to HBCUs and higher education she is well aware of the impact student loan debt can have on a family.

“At a moment of achievement when graduates should be feeling confident, too many students say they’re feeling overwhelmed by mounting loan debt,” Thompson said. “We are the first to offer such a program, and there is no organization better than UNCF for us to partner with for this legacy building program.”

Held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E Wacker Dr., the Gala itself was in many ways a tribute to Black higher education and those who support the pursuit of it.

The evening began with members of five National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) Greek letter fraternities and sororities — Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. — who all performed traditional strolls.

Hosted by Sonya Blakey, program director for Inspiration 1390, the dinner fundraiser was a star-studded affair with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton in attendance along with Chicago natives and NBA stars Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis who served as presenting sponsors for the evening.

Several individuals were recognized throughout the night: Derrick Taylor, president of Black McDonald’s Operators Association (BMOA), who received the UNCF “A Mind is…” Community Award, and Charles Matthews, president and chief executive officer, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas who received the UNCF “A Mind is…” Alumni Award.

UNCF has raised $5 billion in funding to assist more than 450,000 Black students become college graduates in its 75 years in existence. Annually, 10,000 scholarships are provided.

More than $3.7 million was awarded to 266 Chicago students pursuing higher education last year, according to UNCF.

For more information about UNCF visit https://www.uncf.org/about.

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