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UNCF Announces Formation of National Faith and Education Initiative (NFEI) Advisory Council

To help HBCUs continue their longevity and impact for students across the United States

Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were formed mostly post-Civil War to help educate freed slaves so they could participate in society and earn a living. The institutions behind nearly all HBCUs were churches, as the many faith believers wanted to help newly freed Black men and women get an education.

Fast-forward to 2021, and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has become the face of HBCUs across the United States, assisting them to educate any talented student who wants to attend and earn a degree. As a national nonprofit organization, UNCF seeks primarily to fund a group of private HBCUs to help continue to empower and enable the next generation of diverse, educated workers and leaders in the country. UNCF’s effort to support HBCUs is also fueled by providing scholarships and other programs directly to students and educators as well as advocating for all HBCUs and their students throughout the halls of the U.S. Congress and the federal government.

To enable the continued growth and longevity of HBCUs, UNCF has formed a new National Faith and Education Initiative (NFEI) Advisory Council, comprised of church leaders from across many denominations as well as others within the faith community. The UNCF NFEI is an effort to broaden awareness of its core vision and mission across denominations because of how HBCUs were started. The NFEI Advisory Council is seeking to raise unrestricted financial support from faith organizations to help strengthen UNCF-member HBCUs and their students.

“This is a reimagining of a firmly established part of UNCF—our National Faith and Education Initiative. It is our hope this update to our NFEI efforts will build on this faith-based HBCU legacy, and through our advocacy platform, help ensure the visibility and viability of UNCF-member HBCUs and other schools,” said Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “UNCF has always had a strong relationship within the faith community. All but one of our member institutions were founded by a religious denomination. Churches continue to be one of UNCF’s key sources of support, standing as strong advocates for all HBCUs.”

To help UNCF broaden its outreach throughout the religious community, the NFEI Advisory Council members have committed to advocating for UNCF and HBCUs, share messages on behalf of the NFEI and to encourage other faith leaders within their sphere of influence.

Confirmed participants of the NFI Advisory Council are:

  • Yolanda Adams, education advocate and award-winning gospel singer
  • Rev. Dr. Carlton P. Byrd, senior pastor, Southwest Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists
  • Bishop Roy E. Campbell Jr., auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Washington, DC, Catholic Church
  • Bishop Michael Curry, presiding bishop, The Episcopal Church
  • Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale, senior pastor, Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA
  • Joel Osteen, senior pastor, Lakewood Church, Houston, TX
  • Bishop Adam J. Richardson Jr., senior bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Bishop J. Drew Sheard, presiding bishop, Church of God in Christ
  • Bishop Darryl B. Starnes Sr., presiding bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Piedmont Episcopal District
  • Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, presiding bishop, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International
  • Dr. Alyn E. Waller, senior pastor, Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • Dr. Lakeesha Walrond, president, New York Theological Seminary
  • Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, senior pastor, Alfred Street Baptist Church, Alexandria, VA
  • Dr. Jerry Young, president, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.

“We look forward to working with the new NFEI Advisory Council members and thank them for their participation in this important effort,” Lomax added.

Hear from our NFEI Advisory Council on the importance of the work UNCF is doing.

For more information about the UNCF National Faith and Education Initiative, please go to UNCF.org/FaithCampaign.





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, supports and 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% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF 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 over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, 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.

CONTACT: Monique LeNoir
United Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF)