Wilmington’s 4th Annual HBCU Week Awards Gala Raises $343,000

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and television sports host Stephen A. Smith, who is the City’s official Ambassador for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), announced that the 4th Annual HBCU Week Awards Gala successfully raised a total of $343,000 in support of the City’s annual HBCU Week initiative. Hotel Dupont hosted the Gala in Downtown Wilmington last Friday, marking the beginning of the City’s yearly celebration of HBCUs.

The black-tie gala was sold out, and this year also bestowed honors upon four scholars. Each of them had received the $40,000 Future of Chemistry Scholarship in 2019 and have now graduated with honors from their respective universities. The distinguished scholars recognized are as follows: 

  • Nia Anderson from Howard University
  • Kayla Bell-Davis from Howard University
  • Simone Josey from North Carolina AT&T State University
  • Jazmine Harrison from North Carolina AT&T State University
Mayor Purzycki and Alahni Napier, recipient of the first-ever Mike Purzycki Changemaker Scholarship

Furthermore, the Gala acknowledged Alahni Napier as the first-ever recipient of the Mike Purzycki Changemaker Scholarship. Napier is a recent graduate of the Charter School of Wilmington. She will utilize her $10,000 award to pursue her education at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Additionally, other notable honorees at this year’s event included:

  • Lance Gross, an actor, producer, and photographer, who received the HBCU Week Trailblazer Award.
  • Tamika Mallory, Co-Founder of Until Freedom, who received the HBCU Week Social Impact Award.

Mayor Mike Purzycki’s Special Assistant, Ashley Christopher conceived The HBCU Week Awards Gala as part of the HBCU Week initiative. Christopher established HBCU Week with the goal of encouraging high school students to enroll in HBCUs. Goals also included providing scholarship opportunities for education and fostering a pipeline for future employment in corporate America. The recent Gala aimed primarily to raise funds for the initiative. The program brought together HCBU supporters and individuals who have demonstrated a remarkable commitment to HBCUs and Wilmington’s HBCU programs.

HBCU Week is an annual program designed to introduce high school students to the rich legacies and historical significance of HBCUS. The highlight of this week is the College Fair. This is a unique event where participating colleges engage in an “on the spot” acceptance process. Students who attend the fair with their transcripts as well as SAT/ACT scores may receive immediate admission to college and be offered scholarship awards.

Since 2017, HBCU Week has facilitated over 6,000 on-the-spot acceptances. The program has awarded more than $60 million in scholarships through collaborations between admission staff and corporate partnerships. One noteworthy partnership is the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI), formed between the HBCU Week Foundation and American Chemistry Council (ACC). This initiative offers a $40,000 scholarship annually to over 100 students who commit to attending an HBCU and also pursue a STEM major.

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