The 2023 UNCF Masked Ball – Twin Cities celebrated its return after a three and a half-year hiatus, raising $200,000 for the UNCF Minneapolis/St. Paul. This significant fundraising event honored ESSENCE Ventures President and CEO Caroline Wanga, who delivered the keynote address.
Wanga’s inspiring speech recounted her journey from early jobs in the Twin Cities to international success, highlighting her determination to pursue higher education despite unexpected challenges, including an unplanned pregnancy at the age of 17.
Wanga credited the UNCF for its unwavering support, including scholarships and assistance with getting home for the holidays during school. She emphasized the importance of community support in shaping her academic journey.
The event also recognized UNCF scholars Ta’Mara Hill and Clement Gibson, both successful graduates of historically black colleges and universities.
Master of Ceremony T. Mychael Rambo energized the evening, and key leaders and community members celebrated the accomplishments of UNCF students and notable Black organizations in the Twin Cities. The event’s co-chairs, Chanda Smith Baker and Miguel Purvis McMoore, stressed the importance of investing in and supporting Black students, especially after the challenges posed by COVID-19.
UNCF Twin Cities co-chair Miquel Purvis McMoore said the event was necessary. “Since Covid, the UNCF has not had an event, so tonight we just needed to bring community members together who understand the importance of sending Black students to college, raising money for something good, and partying with a purpose.”
Caroline Wanga encouraged the audience to find joy in the face of adversity, emphasizing the importance of living at the intersection of joy and justice, even in the post-George Floyd era. The event’s success demonstrated the UNCF’s commitment to fostering hope and driving initiatives that benefit not only individual students but also the broader Black community and the world.
“I’ve heard the stories about what has happened post-Geroge Floyd in the Twin Cities and I know there are a lot of disheartened folks. But you are still building. People are still doing great things. At ESSENCE I say, ‘we have to live at the intersection of joy and justice.’ My goal here tonight was to inspire joy,” Wanga said.