More than 1,000 Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) students flocked to the annual United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Empower Me Tour on Thursday, November 9, 2023 in downtown Milwaukee to learn about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (UBCUs) and other post-secondary schools.
Twenty-one of those students left with something more: merit scholarships of $2,500 each courtesy of tour co-sponsor Wells Fargo, after submitting a transcript showing a Grade Point Avage (GPA) of 3.0 or higher, a letter of recommendation from a teacher, and an essay of up to 500 words on how the scholarship would help them. More students were offered scholarships from the schools attending the event.
Students also could apply to colleges and learn if they would be admitted. Schools that sent representatives to the event at the Baird Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave., included HBCUs such as Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL; Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA; Fisk University in Nashville, TN; and Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, MS. Schools in the University of Wisconsin System and other local schools such as Milwaukee Area Technical College also were represented.
To get students into the college spirit, the Riverside University High School drumline and Rufus King International High School cheerleaders welcomed MPS students arriving at the Baird Center.
Speakers welcoming students included Suzanne Jenkins, assistant vice president of corporations and foundations at UNCF, previously known as the United Negro College Fund; Shantae Jenkins, senior vice president and the diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic investment leader at Wells Fargo; Ashlei Stevens, a television and radio host; Preston Cole, director of the Milwaukee Department of Administration; and Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley, an alumnus of Tougaloo Collage. MPS also is a sponsor of the tour.
“You are truly who these colleges and universities have been waiting for,” Posley told the students.
Besides speaking with college and university representatives, students attended sessions on topics such as paying for college, including scholarships and internships as options, and on HBCU culture, hearing about the diversity at the schools.