The 34th Annual UNCF Atlanta Mayor’s Masked Ball raised a record-breaking $1.3 million dollars for scholarships supporting historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) as the city’s most accomplished and prominent individuals gathered for a night of fine food, entertainment, and fundraising.
Surpassing last year’s milestone of being the first UNCF event to net $1 million dollars, tickets were sold out for the elegant gala taking place at the Marriot Marquis downtown. Perhaps because of Mayor Kasim Reed’s last ball as mayor, the HBCU graduate has worked in partnership over the last night years with the organization to make the event the highlight of the holiday season.
“I cannot think of a better way to spend our last few weeks as your mayor and the first lady of the city of Atlanta than making sure other people maintain opportunity and have the kind of fair shot and fair shape that I have had,” he said speaking to a crowd at the VIP Masked Award reception prior to the event.
Reed was joined by President and CEO of UNCF Michael L. Lomax who also spoke to the power of the Atlanta community coming together for such an important cause started by Billye Suber Aaron and Ambassador Andrew J. Young.
“I’ve been to this gala all over the country, but this is the first, the original, and it is still the biggest and most exciting night that we have,” he said.
“I think there is a tradition in Atlanta of people giving back to this community because this community has lifted up so many of us. It’s given us opportunities to build a great city and make it better all of the time and to be a part of it. And I think we all know that education is at the foundation of that and our historically black colleges are pillars of that foundation.”
He extended a special thank you to Reed for his work over the years who will be superseded by Keisha Lance Bottoms in the new year, a HBCU graduate from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University.
UNCF’s mission is to support HBCU students like Lance Bottoms and Reed by raising money to go towards textbooks and other college costs. Justine Boyd, Regional Development Director told Rolling Out last month that the organization has helped more than 600 students attending one of the 37 member colleges and universities.
The money donated in Atlanta goes to individuals attending institutions part of the historic Atlanta University Consortium: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College and the Interdenominational Theological Center.
Highlights of the evening including serenading sounds from celebrity actor and recording artist Tyrese Gibson who served as the first celebrity honorary chair. Gibson helped raise $100,000 through a fund the mission appeal.
Other corporate executives, celebrities and dignitaries in attendance included corporate co-chairs Rodney Bullard, vice president of community affairs at Chick-fil-A, Inc.; Ted Blum, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office; Wendy Stewart, president of Bank of America Atlanta division, Chris Tucker, Stephanie Mills, Jeezy, Keisha Knight Pulliam, Phaedra Parks, Dr. Jackie Walters, Dr. Heavenly Kimes and many others.
Additionally, the prestigious M.A.S.K.E.D. awards were given to Brannigan B. Thompson, Senior Vice at Voya Financial, Dontá Wilson, Chief Client Experience Officer at BB&T and Mayor Reed. Before the conclusion of the night, there was a silent auction, parade of stars, elegant dining, dancing, entertainment by Clark Atlanta University Jazz Band and Ron Clarke Academy.
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