. . . By UNCF's Mayor's Masked Ball
During her last semester of college, an unpaid tuition balance nearly kept Debby Osias from earning her degree. Despite working 40 hours a week at a hotel – in addition to attending school full time – Osias recalls how helpless she felt, thinking she had depleted all available financial resources.
Osias' financial difficulties seemed insurmountable until the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) stepped in to help. Each year UNCF, through its Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA), helps more than 3,100 graduating seniors pay outstanding school-related bills so they are able to graduate on time.
"I was going through a financial struggle," said Osias, who graduated in 2009. "I didn't have the financial means to continue with my education after exhausting all of my grants and financial aid. After praying to God that something would happen, I learned that UNCF had paid my debt. I couldn't believe it."
On March 2, the UNCF held the Mayor's Masked Ball at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City to raise funds for CESA and other programs. While final figures are still being tabulated, some 475 attendees were on site to watch this year's honorees – including NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Sheryl P. Underwood, co-host of CBS daytime talk show, "The Talk" – accept UNCF recognition.
In partnership with major corporate donors such as Edison International, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., Mattel, Farmers, Union Bank, Macy's and host of other corporate supporters, the ball garnered $550,000 in 2012 in support of higher education for diverse minority, low-income and underrepresented students like Osias.
Today, the first-generation high school and college graduate is one semester away from earning her master's degree in public administration from California State University, Long Beach. After graduation, Osias aspires to work in education.
Lisa Cagnolatti, ball co-chair and vice president of Business Customer Division at Southern California Edison, called the Mayor's Masked Ball one of the UNCF's most successful fundraisers.
"I am honored that Edison International is able to play a key role in helping the UNCF reach its fundraising goals," Cagnolatti said. "For people of all cultures, education changes lives. With support from Edison International and other partners, the UNCF is creating pathways to education for a diverse student body that may not otherwise be able to pursue higher education."
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. UNCF provides operating funds for 38 member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), scholarships and internships for students at about 900 institutions and faculty and administrative professional training.
For more than 68 years, UNCF has raised more than $3.3 billion to help more than 400,000 students attend college and graduate from college. UNCF has distributed more funds to help minorities attend school than any entity outside of the U.S. government.
Relevant and responsive to our global economy, UNCF continues to raise funds to educate the best and the brightest among us despite their financial challenges. UNCF and its member schools continue to be at the forefront of the effort to create the next generation of professionals who will keep our nation competitive and secure our future. Learn more about what we do on the about us page.
Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste"® but a wonderful thing to invest in. Learn more at www.uncf.org.
And to connect with UNCF Los Angeles Area Office, visit http://give.uncf.org/losangeles.