UNCF to Raise $5 Million to Help College Students Graduate
FAIRFAX, Va., Dec. 1, 2011
FAIRFAX, Va., Dec. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Kenisha Cromity is a Fulbright Scholar teaching this year in China. The young African American woman from Jacksonville, Florida, almost wasn't able to graduate from Atlanta's Spelman College last year because she couldn't pay off her tuition.
That is when the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) came riding to the rescue. UNCF's Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA) sent Spelman and thirty-seven other historically black colleges and universities CESA funds to help students like Kenisha who were close to graduation and in financial need.
The program started in 2009, when stories like Kenisha Cromity's began to reach UNCF through its member colleges. The economy had turned sluggish and that was having an even worse effect in the low-income African American communities.
UNCF is trying to raise $5 million in the current school year to help literally thousands of graduating students who need some extra money to pay off tuition or room and board balances at their schools before they graduate. The average grant for each student is $1,600.
"The economy was and is hitting our communities like a hurricane," said Dr. Wesley McClure, President of Lane College of Jackson, Tennessee, another of the historically black colleges and universities that UNCF helps. "The CESA program has been a godsend."
UNCF's Executive Vice President, John Donohue, agrees that the economy is hitting the low-income students harder.
"This economic turmoil is wreaking havoc on kids from low-income families who simply have nowhere else to turn. The CESA program literally helps pull them across the finish line so that they can graduate and go on to their professional lives," said Donohue.
The program started thanks to a matching grant from the ExxonMobil Corporation. The Lowe's store chain has been a major supporter to the CESA program for the past two and a half years and other corporate, foundation, organization and individual partners are currently being identified.
"It is important for donors to understand who this student is. He or she is most likely an African American, from a low-income or working-class family who has worked hard to try and finish college. A little help is all they need, and the CESA program fills that need," added Donohue.
UNCF's Executive Vice President John Donohue said today's economy is hitting low-income college students the hardest. UNCF plans to raise $5 million to help graduating seniors cross the finish line.
To learn more about CESA or to make a donation, please visit http://give.uncf.org/cesa.
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