Press Release

Media Contact:  Monique Linder, UNCF

Tel: 612.787.8705  


UNCF Empower Me Tour Presented by Target Wraps Up Its Minneapolis Kick-Off Tour In a Big Way . . .

31 Students Received Scholarships Totaling $450,000 To Attend HBCUs

UNCF Empower Me Tour is a full day of on-site college admissions, scholarship awards and workshops aimed at giving students and parents’ tools to get them to and through college

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (October 5, 2016) —The UNCF (United Negro College Fund) Empower Me Tour (EMT), a free, traveling college-and-career-readiness roadshow presented in partnership with Target, stopped in Minneapolis this week. The tour was created eight years ago by 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 21 century and beyond.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, kicked off the Empower Me Tour with a strong message of why the students are attending: “We know disparities exist in Minnesota, however, you have an opportunity here today to not let anything stand in your way of success.” Mayor Hodges continued to say . . . apply yourself to be the best you can be at an historically black college and university (HBCU) and then bring your brilliance back home to Minnesota.  We need you here.”

According to the students that attended, the EMT met their expectations and more.  The sound of excitement filled the Minneapolis Convention Center, from the high-pitched “I WAS ACCEPTED TO TUSKEGEE” yell that echoed the hallways outside of the room where ten HBCUs gathered to interview students who qualified for acceptance after completing a college application, a review of the applicant’s transcript and a conversation about their goals for the future.  In all, 300 of the 900 attendees applied for admittance to one of the ten HBCUs on-site at this year’s Empower Me Tour.

The UNCF EMT presented by Target and also sponsored by Wells Fargo, FedEx and P&G, has a high success rate of graduates from the Twin Cities who attended HBCUs. In fact, UNCF awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to students from the Twin Cities that attended the EMT last year.

“The power of transformation is what the Empower Me Tour is about . . . every student that took part in the Empower Me Tour matters.  Your circumstance cannot be a roadblock to your success.  Empowering students to take control of their lives is the first step in the process” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO, UNCF.

 Dr. Lomax emphasized the importance of its partners by saying: “Paying for a student’s four-year college degree would not be possible without the support of our generous partners of the Empower Me Tour. They give generously because they support progress and want to see the trajectory change for students of color who statistically fall at the bottom of graduation and achievement rates in high-school, adding additional challenges for their quest for high education.  We are extremely grateful for Target, Wells Fargo, FedEx and P&G for making our students a priority.”

 “Target is honored to sponsor UNCF’s Empower Me Tour and to help transform young lives through the power of education,” said Laysha Ward, Executive Vice President and Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Target. ” By helping kids graduate from high school and get into and through college, we’re helping to provide a pathway to more opportunities, and building a more diverse and talented workforce here in Minnesota and across the country.”

 “The UNCF Empower Me Tour makes the dream of higher education a reality for many young people in America by equipping students and parents with the information, tools and resources they need,” said Gigi Dixon, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is pleased to team up with UNCF once again to provide these essential resources for students and their families so that they can make informed decisions about how they will get to and through college successfully.”

 In addition to on-site admission, scholarship awards and college prep workshops, students and parents were exposed to nationally recognized, award-winning authors, motivation and inspirational presenters.  A DJ kept the workshops lively.  The last workshops of the day divided the students by gender with “Girl Talk: Imagine A Future” for the young ladies and “Tied to Greatness: Mastering The Power of Your Image and Manhood to Achieve Success” for the young men.  Every male student in attendance received a tie and a lesson on tying the tie to go with it.  The smiles on these students lit up the convention center.

“The Empower Me Tour also addresses the deep disparities in education in Minnesota by bringing HBCUs to students to provide options that aren’t available to many students to get into Minnesota colleges and universities”, said Sharon-Smith Akinsanya, UNCF’s Regional Director based in Minneapolis. Smith-Akinsanya further explained: “The added-value of a scholarship opportunity further enables students in attendance to earn a college degree.  Early results so far showed that 67 students interviewed and were accepted to HBCUs at the Empower Me Tour kick-off stop in Minneapolis on September 27th.  Of the 67 that were accepted, 31 students received scholarships totaling $422,000 to attend an HBCU on-site conducting college entrance interviews. They were: Bethune-Cookman University, Claflin University, Clark Atlanta University, Edward Waters College, Florida Memorial University, Huston-Tillotson University, Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone College, Oakwood University, Philander Smith College, Rust College, Tuskegee, Wilberforce University and Wiley College.  In addition, Target awarded six, $5,000 scholarships to students on-site.” 

 Students can continue to apply to member HBCUs online at: scholarships.uncf.org.  The Empower Me Tour continues to three more cities in 2016:

 Chicago, IL – October 7tth

Oakland, CA – October 27th

Rochester, NY – November 14

 For more information on the UNCF Empower Me Tour, visit www.EmpowerMeTour.org.

Instagram: @UNCF. . . #EmpowerMeTour

 Twitter: @UNCF . . .#EmpowerMeTour

 Facebook: UNCF Empower Me Tour


About UNCF: 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.

 (Print Press Release)