GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will host the inaugural United Negro College Fund Mayor's Breakfast on Wednesday.
The event, set for 8 a.m. at the Marquette Park Pavilion in Gary, will bring 300 business, civic and education leaders together to create a college-ready culture for students.
Funds generated from the breakfast will help support the UNCF.
The keynote speaker at the event, Michael Lomax, is the president and chief executive officer of UNCF, the nation's largest private provider of scholarships and educational support for African-American students.
"While a college education is more important than ever in today's economy," Lomax said, "too many of our young people are not academically or financially prepared for post-secondary education."
A 2010 study from the Center on Education and the Workforce predicted that the United States will need 22 million college-educated workers by 2018, yet current trends suggest the nation will fall short by nearly 3 million degrees.
Lomax also served as president of Dillard University in New Orleans and serves on the boards of Teach For America, The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Stand for Children.
“This inaugural mayor’s breakfast speaks to our community’s commitment to the work UNCF is doing through its Northwest Leadership Council to improve educational outcomes in our city,” Freeman-Wilson said.
“Dr. Lomax and UNCF are investing in our students, and I am proud to partner with them. As a member of the Northwest Leadership Council, we continue to strengthen our historically black colleges and universities and ensure that more African-American students are graduating from college.”
UNFC helps provide financial support for minority and underrepresented students from families with low to moderate incomes. Sixty percent of the organization's scholars are the first to attend college in their families, and 65 percent are from families with an annual household income of less than $30,000.
The UNFC Northwest Leadership Council, formed in 2007, has raised more than $353,000 for scholarships for Northwest Indiana students, working with community and statewide partners such as USA Funds, NIPSCO, United Water, Majestic Star and the John W. Anderson Foundation.
The council has been able to award more than 50 scholarships averaging $3,000 per recipient.