UNCF team
Pictured is the UNCF team. Left to right: Rick Noble, staff vice president of cash management; Anton Chase, business process consultant and a Bowl-A-Thon planning committee chair; Wayne S. DeVeydt, EVP and CFO; John Gallina, SVP internal audit and chief compliance officer; Andrea Neely, UNCF Indiana area development director; David Kretschmer, SVP treasurer and chief investment officer; Randy Brown, EVP and chief human resource officer; and Merrill Yarling, staff vice president of treasury. (Photos/C. Guynn)

As we approach the season of giving and being grateful for all of the blessings we’ve received this year, it makes me extremely proud to dedicate my career to improving the Indianapolis community and helping African American youth achieve their dream of a college education. 

In today’s workforce, a high school diploma is simply not enough. Not enough to get your foot in the door into emerging industries. Not enough to land a high-paying job. Not enough to decrease the ever-increasing wealth gap. The 21st century workforce requires that employees have a college degree. Whether that degree is in liberal arts or a specialized degree such as accounting or physics — the fact remains — having a college degree increases your chances of success in a meaningful career. A career that allows you to improve the way of life for yourself, your family and your community. Over the past 75 years, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has awarded nearly a half million students with scholarships that have led to a college degree. 

UNCF is more than just scholarships. As the largest and most effective minority education organization in the United States, UNCF has worked tirelessly in the Indianapolis community to not only send African American students to area Indiana colleges and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), UNCF has worked in the community to see to it that the pathway to college begins with quality K-12 schools that adequately prepare students for college and career success. More recently, we teamed up with local organizations and universities to host a series of community conversations on an array of critical topics such as increasing teacher diversity and supporting social-emotional learning programming. The overall goal of these conversations is to amplify the need to improve outcomes for African American children and shift the narrative of what is possible for all students. 

Between 2017 and 2018, nearly $850,000 has been awarded to Indiana students; and upwards of $430,000 in scholarships have been provided to Indianapolis students. This year, in fact, each of our Indianapolis student scholars have averaged $5,500 in college funding. This wouldn’t be possible without the help of UNCF’s donors recognizing how an investment in a student’s education reaps huge benefits for the community and the student’s life. 

UNCF also collaborates and builds partnerships with the world’s top corporations in an effort to expose Black students to experiential learning opportunities, which in-turn provide opportunities for the corporation to develop relationships with the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. And this brings me great delight. We’ve partnered with organizations such as Anthem, Eli Lilly, Strada Education Network, Parkview Health, NIPSCO and Lumina that have invested in corporate scholars programming to provide students with paid internships and scholarships with the overarching goal to secure employment upon graduation.

I want to share a few fun facts:

• UNCF has helped to more than double the number of minorities attending college since our 1944 inception.

• UNCF provides financial support to 37 member HBCUs.

• The six-year graduation rate for African American UNCF scholarship recipients is 70% higher than the national average for all African Americans. During the 2019-2020 school year, UNCF will award over 10,000 scholarships.

• UNCF vigorously advocates for all HBCUs — stressing the importance of minority education and community engagement.

As mentioned, UNCF wouldn’t be able to provide scholarships or developmental learning opportunities if it weren’t for our generous donors from Indiana and all over the nation. And to celebrate with our donors, we will hold our annual Indianapolis Masked Ball on Dec. 7 at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. I am happy to report that this is a sold out event! But that doesn’t mean that you cannot continue to support UNCF’s programming — ensuring that our children are well-prepared for college and beyond. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. 

Visit UNCF.org/IndyMaskedBall to find the best sponsorship package for you, your family, company, church or civic organization.

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