It was a star-studded event at the United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) annual “A Mind Is” event last week. This year’s event, which was held at the Hilton New York, honored the Rev. Calvin O. Butts and Coca-Cola Foundation Chair Ingrid Saunders Jones and also unveiled the organization’s newest public service announcements.
WNBC-New York anchor David Ushery hosted the gala, which included an invocation by Tony Award winner and longtime UNCF supporter Jennifer Holliday, who also performed. The fundraising event previewed a new version of UNCF’s iconic “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” public service announcement campaign, with a national rollout occurring later this month.
The new PSA spots end with a new iteration of UNCF’s famous motto. Going forward it will read, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.”
“Over the past 40 years, UNCF’s PSA campaign has generated over $3.5 billion that has helped over 300,000 students earn college degrees,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax. “This exciting new campaign will go further; [it will advocate] for the right both to a college education and a high school education that prepares students for college coursework and college success, and [it will inspire] students to strive to go to college.”
The evening also honored two longtime advocates on behalf of UNCF. Jones, who serves as vice president for Global Community Connections of the Coca-Cola Company and chair of the Coca-Cola Foundation, received the UNCF President’s Award. Butts, who serves as senior pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, received the UNCF Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award.
Gala attendees also had the opportunity to contribute to UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA.) Created in 2009, CESA provides scholarships to students facing financial shortfalls that threaten their ability to stay in college and graduate. To date, more than 6,000 donors have contributed more than $14 million to help more than 8,000 students stay in school.