UNCF’s 11th Annual Mayor’s Masked Ball Promises A Night Of Celebration And Philanthropy

The UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is gearing up for its 11th annual Mayor’s Masked Ball, a highlight of the organization’s year-long 80th-anniversary celebration. The ball is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

This fundraising social event, hosted by UNCF, is set to bring together a diverse group of attendees, including corporate partners, educators, celebrities, dignitaries, UNCF HBCU presidents, civic leaders, alumni, and community influencers. The occasion will not only celebrate the remarkable 80-year journey of UNCF but also acknowledge and honor the founders, donors, and philanthropic partners who have played a pivotal role in supporting the cause over the last 11 years.

Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF, emphasized the organization’s commitment to changing the narrative of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation. Since its inception in 1944, UNCF has been a vital force in providing essential resources to educate generations of African American and minority students.

“We celebrate the progress that is being made to uplift our historically black colleges and universities and the students they serve,” said Therese Badon, Senior Vice President of Development, UNCF Southern & Special Events Divisions. And we express our sincere appreciation for all that our partners do to support UNCF and who believe deeply in our motto: ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in.’”

Last year, with the support of the New Orleans community, UNCF awarded an impressive $1.49 million in scholarships and programs for students and UNCF member HBCUs, Dillard University, and Xavier University.

This year’s UNCF MASKED Award honorees include ESSENCE Ventures President and CEO and Co-Founder of WangaWoman LLC, Caroline Wanga, who will be recognized for her unwavering commitment to purpose, equity, and authenticity. A proud alumna of Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs), Caroline has dedicated her life to ensuring educational opportunities for future generations, with a special connection to UNCF through her scholarship from the Minnesota UNCF. Her recognition also speaks to the legacy brands longstanding commitment to culture, as the ESSENCE Festival of Culture will celebrate its 30 anniversary in New Orleans this year.

In addition, Stephanie and Ryan Burks, founders of RYCARS Construction, a commercial roofing company with a strong commitment to philanthropy will also be honored. The Burks have not only excelled in their business endeavors but have also made a lasting impact on communities across four states through active engagement and resource provision.

The Mayor’s Masked Ball promises not only an evening of celebration but also a showcase of talent and inspiration. The Legendary Funk Band, The Bar-Kays, will provide entertainment, and the event will be hosted by the talented actress and comedian Kim Coles. 

As UNCF continues to champion the cause of HBCUs and invest in the future of Black college students, the Mayor’s Masked Ball is a symbol of unity, philanthropy, and the commitment to ensuring that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in.”

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