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December 21st, 2011

UNCF to raise $5 million for graduating students

Kenisha Cromity is a Fulbright Scholar teaching this year in China. The young African American woman from Jacksonville, Florida almost wasn’t able to graduate from Atlanta‘s Spelman College last year because she couldn’t pay off her tuition.

That is when the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) came riding to the rescue. UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid (CESA) sent Spelman and thirty-seven other historically black colleges and universities CESA funds to help students like Kenisha who were close to graduation and in financial need.

The program started in 2009, when stories like Kenisha Cromity’s began to reach UNCF through its member colleges. The economy had turned sluggish and that was having an even worse effect in the low-income African American communities.

UNCF is trying to raise $5 million in the current school year to help literally thousands of graduating students who need some extra money to pay off tuition or room and board balances at their schools before they graduate. The average grant for each student is $1,600.

"The economy was and is hitting our communities like a hurricane," said Dr. Wesley McClure, President of Lane College of Jackson, Tennessee, another of the historically black colleges and universities that UNCF helps. "The CESA program has been a god send."

UNCF’s Executive Vice President, John Donohue, agrees that the economy is hitting the low-income students harder. "This economic turmoil is wreaking havoc on kids from low-income families who simply have nowhere else to turn. The CESA program literally helps pull them across the finish line so that they can graduate and go on to their professional lives," said Donohue.

"It is important for donors to understand who this student is. He or she is most likely an African American, from a low-income or working class family who has worked hard to try and finish college. A little help is all they need, and the CESA program fills that need," added Donohue.

To learn more about CESA or to make a donation, please visit

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