Sarah Ford | December 7, 2015

TMCF 27th Awards Gala: Developing Minds and Delivering Dreams By Empowering High-Achieving Students to Overcome Barriers

If your business believes in the power of education and opportunity, and is committed to developing and hiring a new generation of global leaders, then you should know about a truly inspiring event that took place in Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago – the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s 27th Annual Awards Gala, themed “Developing Minds… Delivering Dreams.

For 27 years, TMCF has held this annual Awards Gala as the culmination of its annual Leadership Institute – a program in which TMCF trains today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders. This year’s Awards Gala celebrated the achievements of the country’s foremost visionaries who have used their status to impart a positive impact on the lives of these students and publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including celebrities, dignitaries, and leaders like:

  • Daymond John, Founder & CEO of FUBU, Co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank, and CEO of Shark Branding
  • Samuel R. Allen, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Deere & Company
  • John O. Brennan, Director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Thomas A. Cole, Partner and Former Chair of the Executive Committee Sidley Austin LLP
  • David Hall, President of University of the Virgin Islands

You can click here to listen to each of these fascinating visionaries’ speeches from the gala, but possibly one of the most riveting speeches at the gala, which merits your attention, was from Mary Bacon, a Junior at Choppin State University. You can watch Mary deliver the following speech on TMCF’s YouTube channel:

“Living as a student and experiencing homelessness in Baltimore, Maryland has not been easy. Every day I tell myself, I am okay. But tonight, I want you to know it is not okay anymore.

In this moment, you are helping me to address the fear of failure, not meeting societal expectations, and articulating my circumstance. My ‘okay’ has been a simple statement of hope. A declaration of my commitment to myself when I could not cry out and had nowhere to go.  It has been lonely out there. I spent many nights in my car terrified of the unknown, balancing falling asleep and staying awake and alert to survive. I dealt with a tremendous amount of pain, trauma, and fear.  As an aspiring social worker and community organizer, it has been hard maintaining a 3.4 GPA, juggling classes, service and work while living without certainty of food or shelter. It is overwhelming.

My education and obtaining an undergraduate degree has been a guiding light in the darkness. Education has been my strength so I can take the necessary steps to move forward. As I look out at your beautiful faces, I am encouraged. I am not only hopeful, but very humble to be a TMCF scholar. You all represent excellence, and it feels good to be empowered and be welcomed in this room.

TMCF, your visit with me and personalized consideration cannot be expressed in words. Thank you for bringing awareness to college student homelessness across our nation. I want to tear down the stigmas that are attached to homelessness and identify for others, there is no specific box that we fit into.  We are in classrooms, on sports teams, and in campus organizations. It is important to me that you are aware we exist. We have dreams, aspirations, and goals. We want to be successful and live productive lives. We are talented, intelligent, tactful, courageous and beautiful. It is my responsibility to bring awareness to college student homelessness that is so often overlooked and invisible. Thurgood Marshall College Fund, thank you for finally making me, and other students like me, visible.”

You have the power to help TMCF continue its work as a critical link between students getting the most from their education and the opportunity to become a part of a new generation of global leaders.

Despite the universal challenges that face today’s college bound student, TMCF’s programs transform the lives of thousands of students each year by providing unparalleled access to a funnel of opportunities for students to journey to college, through college and into a career.

For the 2014-15 academic year alone, TMCF awarded close to 400 scholarships to help high-achieving students afford the cost of college and avoid student loans – positioning them for future success in their careers and financial stability to support homeownership, retirement and future family education. Just this one program leads to a college graduation rate of 97% for TMCF scholarship recipients – versus a national rate of 21%.

However, for every student that TMCF helps, there are others they cannot assist due to TMCF’s limited financial resources.  As a business, there are many ways your organization can empower TMCF’s continued work, including:

  • Sponsor TMCF’s 28th annual Awards Gala.  Click here to view this year’s gala supporters, and to learn more about the event.
  • Workplace giving and matching gifts. Feature Thurgood Marshall College Fund in your workplace giving program and offer matching gifts to incentivize employees to join you in supporting TMCF’s incredible work. Click here to learn more.
  • Partner with TMCFClick here to learn about partnership opportunities and to discover the variety of scholarship, capacity building, and educational programs you can help TMCF offer.
  • Support TMCF through a well-designed corporate philanthropy program.  From workplace giving, employee crowdfunding, cause-focused signature programs, volunteer management and other corporate giving initiatives, America’s Charities can help you get started. Click here to learn more.

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