MINNEAPOLIS – U.S. Bank this week announced a $700,000 multi-year scholarship program in partnership with the United Negro College Fund at the seventh annual UNCF State of Minnesota Leaders’ Luncheon on Education, and offered a call to action for other Minnesota corporations to join them. This year’s luncheon was sponsored by U.S. Bank, Target, Medtronic and 3M. In an effort to positively impact the lives of Twin Cities’ students in successfully making it to and through college and into careers, U.S. Bank established the UNCF Ujima Scholars Program. Named after the third principal of the seven-day African American cultural observance, Kwanzaa, the Swahili word “Ujima” (oo-JEE-mah) stands for “collective work and responsibility.”
“At U.S. Bank, we invest our time, resources and passion to build and support vibrant communities that allow every person to work toward their possible,” said Richard Davis, chairman and chief executive officer of U.S. Bancorp. “Getting to college is a significant milestone in a young person’s life. We want to take it to the next level and help these students get that first job and realize success. Young people have dreams and we are here to support those dreams and help them realize what is possible. The time to act is now and we look forward to partnering with other corporations in this effort.”
U.S. Bank, the nation’s fifth largest commercial bank, and UNCF, the nation’s largest and most effective higher education assistance organization for minorities, aim to establish a pipeline of college-educated professionals of color who are prepared to fill positions at Minnesota companies. Unique to the program, each student will be paired with a mentor at U.S. Bank offering career guidance throughout the entire seven-year period.
The UNCF Ujima Scholars Program will launch this summer selecting African American high school juniors from the Twin Cities region. The program will offer students financial education, academic assistance, a $5,000 annual scholarship award at colleges that are a best fit for scholars, career preparation, paid internships and full employment opportunities post-graduation with participating companies. The goal is to expand the program to benefit 90 students – all whom must demonstrate financial need – with the support of other peer companies that agree to be a part of the program, which will be administered by UNCF.
Davis made a call to action to other Minnesota corporations at the capacity crowd Luncheon on Education, which convened more than 200 policy makers, business and civic leaders, including Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Dr. Ronald Carter, president of UNCF-member institution Johnson C. Smith University.
Luncheon guests heard from a distinguished panel of education leaders and social justice activists, moderated by UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax, discussing the theme, “Now is the Time to Take Social Action to Build Better Futures.”
Minnesota, by many measures, outperforms other states in the nation for a high-quality of life – from education to housing and health – and has a robust economy with 16 Fortune 500 companies located in the Twin Cities region. However, despite experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 15 years, Minnesota like other states in the country is grappling with issues of inequality and overcoming barriers to economic prosperity for African Americans.
Davis said the Minnesota initiative could be replicated across the broad national footprint of U.S. Bank.
U.S. Bank’s on-site announcement of its significant investment demonstrates the company’s commitment to take immediate action to build better futures, said Lomax, adding that UNCF is excited to create a new partnership to provide opportunities for minority students that will have long-term benefits for the Minneapolis region.
“UNCF is deeply appreciative to U.S. Bank’s pledge to live up to the true meaning of the word Ujima, by building and maintaining our community together, making our brothers’ problems our own, and solving them together,” Lomax said. “We thank Richard Davis and the leaders at U.S. Bank for their foresight and vision to invest in better futures for deserving Twin Cities’ students, and we hope that other area corporations will follow in their footsteps and be inspired to take action now to create positive social change.”
For further details, visit http://www.uncf.org.