UNCF Jacksonville and Edward Waters University hosts Third Annual Mayor’s Masked Ball raising Vital Funds to Support HBCUs and Students


Gala Photo1

(l-r): Veronica Tutt, Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Joni Poitier.
(l-r): Veronica Tutt, Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Joni Poitier.

Gala Photo2

(l-r): James D. Staton, Jr., Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan and Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole
(l-r): James D. Staton, Jr., Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan and Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole

Jacksonville, F.L., April 02, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Third annual Jacksonville Mayor’s Masked Ball benefiting Edward Waters University was a smashing success. The festive event was held at the Hyatt Regency Riverfront on March 22, 2024, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and featured various speakers, an awards presentation, and the touching moment came when Cleve Warren was named this year’s Champion of Education.

Upon accepting the award, Warren stated, “On behalf of my family, Mayor Deegan, President Faison and Dr. Johnnetta Cole, I encourage all to give to the great work being done by the United Negro College Fund and Edward Waters University to develop young minds. “A mind is still a terrible thing to waste.” The ongoing gift of your valued time, precious treasure and enormous talent will help to ensure bright futures for generations to come.”

Reflecting on Mr. Warren’s impassioned plea and the remarkable achievements of the evening, A. Zachary Faison Jr., J.D., president and CEO, Edward Waters University, reminded us of all of the profound significance of collective action in advancing the cause of education.

“Tonight, we celebrate not just an event, but a movement of empowerment and opportunity,” President Faison said. “The Mayor’s Masked Ball has once again showcased the unwavering support for Edward Waters University and the UNCF’s mission to uplift HBCUs and their students. As we reflect on this evening’s success, let us remember the words of Mr. Cleve Warren: ‘A mind is still a terrible thing to waste.’ It is through the generosity of our sponsors, the dedication of our partners, and the commitment of our community that we continue to forge pathways to success for generations to come. Thank you all who have contributed to this noble cause and let us pledge to keep investing in the bright futures of our students and our society.”

Sponsors included Marquis Sponsor CSX, and Mayor’s Court Sponsors Florida Blue and the Hyatt Regency Riverfront.  Masked Court sponsors included Crowley Maritime, Wells Fargo, PEPS, JTA, Vystar Credit Union and JEA.  The event’s media partner was Action News Jax.

For 80 years, UNCF has strived to change the historically Black college and university (HBCU) narrative across the nation by equipping more HBCU students with the resources necessary to transition into college, graduate and ultimately establish careers that will build better futures for our society. UNCF is excited to celebrate this milestone anniversary and would like to acknowledge and thank the Coca-Cola Company, a Founding Sponsor, and Target, Presenting Sponsor.

“Since we were founded in 1944, UNCF has fueled HBCUs with vital resources to educate generations of African American and other minority students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.

“This year marks our 80th anniversary. Our theme is ‘Honoring the Legacy, Transforming our Future.’ We will acknowledge and celebrate our founders, donors and philanthropic partners over the last eight decades. And we will be encouraging and transforming the next generation through education to achieve greater successes for our community and this nation. UNCF and HBCUs matter now more than ever as our students and institutions need ongoing support. I encourage you to invest in UNCF so together we can invest in and build future generations of Black college students who will lead this nation and contribute to our economy. Events like the Jacksonville Mayor’s Masked Ball help us do just that,” said Dr. Lomax.

The Jacksonville Mayor’s Masked Ball is still accepting donations. To learn more or to donate, please go to UNCF.org/jaxmmb.



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, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. 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 50,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.


CONTACT: Paul Gloersen United Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF) 407.491.1264 [email protected] 

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