Last year, $630,000 in scholarship awards was offered to minority students during the Empower Me Tour’s first stop in Minneapolis, with a roadshow total of nearly $4 million.  This year, a significant increase in awards, attendance and admission offers to students at top HBCUs is a testament of the value of HBCUs to students and parents.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (September 28, 2017) — The UNCF Empower Me Tour is a free, traveling college-and-career-readiness roadshow presented in partnership with Target. The tour was created nine years ago in tandem with Wells Fargo to inspire students to take control of their futures by pursuing a four-year college degree and graduating with an education that prepares them for the challenges they will face in the 21st century and beyond.

Education disparities are vast for students of color in Minnesota.  Unlike their white counterparts, many students of color do not have the opportunities to travel and visit out-of-state colleges due to financial limitations.  “Getting students of color to and through college is an attainable goal that UNCF is making through program such as the Empower Me Tour,” said Paulette Jackson, UNCF’s Vice President of National Development.  

UNCF is the largest scholarship granting organization for students of color awarding $100 million annually in scholarships to more than 10,000 students.  This year, $1.7 million in scholarships were offered to high school seniors.  Five seniors received $5,000 merit scholarship awards supported by Target.  Attendance from Twin Cities high schools was significantly higher than previous years, with 986 students in attendance, over 200 of which were offered admissions after completing interviews with 19 HBCUs that were on-site.  According to data gathered by the Minnesota Department of Education, students of color have a 35% chance of not graduating high school and a 32% chance of not attending college.  On this very day, more than 200 high school seniors of color in the Twin Cities forged ahead and beat the odds.

“In a city where graduation rates are the lowest and the achievement gap is the widest for African and Native American students, having teachers, role models and mentors who look like them to share cultural values and to give them navigation tools is critical to a student’s success,” said Mary K. Boyd, former Saint Paul Public Schools Superintendent and Co-Founder of Everybody’s In. 

The UNCF Empower Me Tour featured high-energy, empowering discussions that took place while students participated in college admissions interviews throughout the day.  One of the highly anticipated talks of the day, “My Black Is Beautiful: The Talk” sponsored by P&G, featured a panel discussion from Christal Moose, a local Native American activist, Caroline Wanga, VP of Diversity & Inclusion at Target, and Tenisha Taylor Bell, CEO of Perfect Pitch Media.

In another room, Metro Transit Police Chief, John Harrington, participated on “The Talk” panel, in an interactive discussion with the young men in 11th and 12th grade about the many issues facing them as young men of color on their education journey.  At the end of this session, the young men received a lesson on professional business attire, including how to tie a tie.

Providing parents with the information, tools and resources they need to be able to support their graduating seniors is an important component of the Empower Me Tour. Ninety-two parents attended an information session on September 21st at the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Davis Center.  “The Empower Me Tour makes the dream of higher education a reality for many young people in America by providing students and parents with the information, tools and resources they need all in one place to help students achieve their dreams,” said Gigi Dixon, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Wells Fargo.  

The EMT heads to Oakland, CA on Oct. 18-19; Chicago, IL on Nov. 1-2; Cincinnati, OH on Nov. 15-16; and Dallas, TX on Dec. 4-5.  The UNCF Empower Me Tour is supported by presenting sponsor Target, and founding partners Wells Fargo, FedEx and P&G. You can follow EMT and get regular updates at: www.EmpowerMeTour.org and on social media.

Instagram: @UNCF  #EmpowerMeTour

Twitter: @UNCF    #EmpowerMeTour

Facebook: UNCF

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About UNCF United Negro College Fund:

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.  Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”. Learn more at www.UNCF.org.