UNCF HBCU Empower Me Tour Hosted by Randal Pinkett and Friends Kicks Off for 2009-2010

UNCF-the United Negro College Fund-the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, today announced the launch of its 2009-2010 HBCU Empower Me Tour hosted by Randal Pinkett and friends. Targeting more than twenty historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), the tour will inspire and motivate youth to use their education not only to enhance their professional growth opportunities, but to improve the country. UNCF’s HBCU Empower Me Tour will focus on six topics: financial literacy, entrepreneurship, environment sustainability, professional development, health and wellness, and service and philanthropy. Offering students tools and advice on how they can play active roles in their communities, this year’s tour will feature numerous celebrity speakers, entertainers, athletes, business and political leaders in a town hall panel format.

“UNCF’s HBCU Empowerment Tour builds on the long tradition of service to communities and the country as a critical part of an HBCU education,” said Michael L. Lomax Ph. D., UNCF president and CEO. “UNCF is committed to helping President Barack Obama meet his goal for our nation to regain world leadership in the percentage of citizens with college degrees, not only to enhance their professional prospects, but to prepare them to become the next generation of good citizens and effective leaders.”

The second year of UNCF’s HBCU Empower Me Tour, which is produced in partnership with the Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation, kicked off at Johnson C. Smith University on Tuesday, October 27th. The Tour will be hosted by ten additional colleges and universities throughout the country, concluding in April, 2010. Hampton University is the next tour stop on November 10th. Johnson C. Smith University attendees participated in numerous informative workshops and visited The Empower Me Tour Zone- an interactive experience for middle school, high school and college students, providing them an opportunity to meet with corporate recruiters, learn about volunteer and internship opportunities, scholarships and win prizes. Students who have received UNCF scholarships had the opportunity to be featured on “Empower Me TV”, which will be posted on the UNCF Empower Me Tour website. Also, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Ledisi hosted a listening party from her latest CD “Turn Me Loose”.

Earl Martin Phelan, CEO of Reach Out and Read led a special workshop on Social Entrepreneurship as a part of the entrepreneurship track to encourage students to leverage their personal interest into a socially conscious business. Usher’s New Look Foundation hosted a workshop on service and philanthropy with a focus on Usher’s Powered by Service Program, providing direct-youth grants to seed service projects in communities across the country. Nicole Caldwell’s Health & Wellness “I AM GLAM” workshop highlighted self image and how it impacts success and Dee Marshall led a professional development workshop entitled “Soft Skills Savvy.” Additionally, Wachovia, A Wells Fargo Company led a Financial Literacy workshop which highlighted basic savings, budgeting, and personal finance skills as well as careers in financial services while Fed Ex led workshops on “Greening your Life, Green Collar Careers and What that means for your campus.”

A robust panel discussion entitled, “Passion…Purpose…Power” focused on entrepreneurship. The panel was hosted and moderated by Randal Pinkett, winner of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and included fellow entrepreneurs two-time Grammy Nominee Ledisi, celebrity make-up artist Nicole Caldwell, TV One’s Makeover Manor life coach Dee Marshall, attorney and radio personality Warren Ballentine, and Comedian, and International President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sheryl Underwood.

“Education is a passport to opportunity,” said Pinkett. “It is important for today’s youth to understand the importance of a college education and how to leverage it not only for self-improvement, but to build stronger communities. An education is one of the most powerful investments we can make.”

Sponsor representatives for the Empower Me Tour Zone and UNCF strategic alliance partners Wachovia A Wells Fargo Company, Fed Ex, Raise The Bar, Just Glam, The Black List Project and UNCF were on hand to share information with students. For more information on the tour and for registration, visit www.empowermetour.org.