From left to right: Founder, chairman and CEO of The Peebles Coporation, R. Donahue Peebles, his wife, Katrina Peebles, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, Nancy Silberkleit, co-CEO of Riverdale/Archie Comics, Sharlee Jeter, president of the Turn 2 Foundation and vice president of strategy and development of Jeter Ventures, and her father, Dr. S Charles Jeter.
During the past 75 years, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has helped nearly half a million students earn college degrees. As it marks such a major milestone, UNCF celebrated its work at the 8th annual Hamptons Summer Benefit on Aug. 3 at the residence of Nancy Silberkleit, Co-CEO, Riverdale/Archie Comics in East Hampton, NY. The event reached new fundraising heights, raising more than $350,000 for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their students.
The success of the impressive day was largely due to the overwhelming support from over 200 benefit attendees, including Thomas DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller with a check presentation of more than $60,000; Cathy Hughes, founder and chairperson, Urban One, Inc.; Advent Capital Management, LLC also contributed $50,000; Ray Chew, music director, ABC’s Dancing with the Stars; Councilman RobertE. Cornegy, Jr. 36th District, Fox host and newscaster, Harris Faulkner and husband, Tony Berlin, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages 22nd District and Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.
“There are millions of Americans who, over 75 years, have invested in UNCF and better futures for our students, and through that success, for all of us,” said. Lomax. “Today, we raise the resources our HBCUs need to do their invaluable work. Today, we fund scholarships that narrow the gap between college costs and family resources. And together, we change the narrative of our HBCUs, who help strengthen and elevate a new generation of young, black and gifted students.”
UNCF paid tribute to two champions of diversity and education with the “Keepers of the Flame” award. R. Donahue Peebles, founder & CEO, The Peebles Corporation who is a leader in helping to advance educational opportunities for young people of color through his philanthropy, and HBCU Spelman College alumna Sharlee Jeter, president of the Turn 2 Foundation, who recently commemorated UNCF’s 75th anniversary with a $100,000 donation and has been a long-standing partner through the UNCF/Sharlee Jeter scholarship. Sharlee’s father, Dr. S. Charles Jeter, a 1971 graduate of HBCU Fisk University was on-hand to present his daughter with the prestigious award.
“Empowering young people to work hard, excel in their academics and pursue a higher education is a critical component of our Foundation’s mission,” said Sharlee Jeter, president of the Turn 2 Foundation. “The UNCF/Sharlee Jeter Scholarship has enabled us to support so many students by ensuring they have access to a college education, and we’re proud to build upon a legacy that provides young people with the tools and resources to achieve their greatest potential.”
The event included a VIP reception, a wonderful performance of “I Wanna Be Ready” from Alvin Ailey’s Revelations by Ailey II Dancer Kyle Martin and an inspiring testimonial from UNCF Ralph Ellison scholar Kristen Gordon, a Spelman College Alumna.
“Without this scholarship, I honestly do not know if I would be able to stand in front of you all as a graduate of the number 1 HBCU in the world,” said Gordon. “The work UNCF does to not only help support HBCUs but allowing students to afford an HBCU education is crucial and most importantly necessary considering the state of the world we live in today. I want others to be afforded the same opportunity I was given as I walk beyond the beloved gates of Spelman College with opportunities made possible by UNCF.”
Since its founding, UNCF has raised more than $4.8 billion and has helped nearly half a million students earn degrees at UNCF-member HBCUs. “There’s another message in UNCF’s 75th anniversary celebration,” Lomax added. “In a country whose population is rapidly trending majority-minority, and at a time when a college education is more important—and more expensive—than ever, UNCF’s biggest challenges are ahead.” UNCF annually awards more than 10,000 scholarships, Lomax noted, but for every scholarship it awards, it must turn away nine potential leaders for lack of funding. “We owe—and our country owes—those nine the support they need to go to and through college,” Lomax said. “As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we commit to fulfilling that obligation.”
See highlights from this event using the #UNCFNY or #UNCFHamptonsNY