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Ft. Lauderdale Leaders Come Together to help Raise Funding for HBCUs and Area Students at the 19th Annual UNCF Leader's Luncheon

Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, philanthropist and owner of the Florida Panthers, to serve as keynote speaker

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, Dec. 06, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- During the past 75 years, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has helped more than half a million students earn college degrees. As the largest and most effective minority education organization in the United States, UNCF also actively supports 37 private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and advocates for minority higher education.

To mark such a major milestone, UNCF will join nearly 300 business, civic and community influencers, including master of ceremonies, Calvin Hughes, anchor, WPLG-TV, and keynote speaker Vincent “Vinnie” Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers, at the 19th annual UNCF Leader’s Luncheon at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort and Spa Dec. 12 to help deserving Florida students get to and through college successfully.

Viola is the former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and is one of the nation’s foremost leaders in electronic trading. Viola started his career in the financial services industry on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange and rose to be vice chairman (1993-1996) and chairman (2001-2004). Viola is also the founder and largest stockholder in Independent Bank Group, Inc., a community banking chain headquartered in McKinney, TX, that he founded in 1989. In 2009, he was inducted into the Futures Industry Association Hall of Fame.

Viola graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1977. He later graduated from the U.S. Army Airborne, Infantry and Ranger Schools and served in the 101st Airborne Division. In 1983, he graduated from the New York Law School. Shortly after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Viola conceived, founded and funded the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

“Events, such as the Ft. Lauderdale Leadership Luncheon, stress the importance of HBCUs,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF. “HBCUs not only provide a college education for 300,000 students every year, but they are a powerful economic engine: locally, through the jobs they create and the expenditures they make in the cities where they are located; and nationally, through the students they educate and prepare for an information-age workforce.”

More than 5,500 Florida students attend HBCUs, including UNCF-supported scholar Brea Rolle, president, Bahamian Connections Student Association, Florida Memorial University. Rolle will be at the luncheon to talk about the impact of UNCF support and the importance of HBCUs.

UNCF-member institutions Florida Memorial University, Edward Waters College and Bethune-Cookman University are among the Florida HBCUs that contribute almost 8,000 jobs, $833 million in economic impact and $8.6 billion in lifetime earnings for Florida HBCU graduates, according to a landmark study commissioned by UNCF.

“This is an annual initiative we are hosting to support area students and local HBCUs,” said Haki Halisi, area development director, UNCF Ft. Lauderdale. “We are encouraging the community to secure better futures for us all by investing in UNCF and the schools and students we serve and by serving as a voice for deserving youth.”

The Ft. Lauderdale Leader’s Luncheon is co-chaired by John M. Camillo, president and CEO, Yellow Cab of Broward County, and Dale V.C. Holness, mayor, Broward County. This event is made possible because of the commitment of UNCF sponsors, including AT&T, Wells Fargo and Florida Panthers Foundation.

Click here for more information about UNCF’s efforts in South Florida. To purchase event tickets, email haki.halisi@uncf.org or call 954.527.3315. Follow the discussion on Twitter #UNCFMiami.


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 nearly 20 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships annually and 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 more than 1,100 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 UNCF.org, or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

Monique LeNoirUnited Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF)202-810-0231monique.lenoir@uncf.org

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