Shaw University’s inaugural HBCU gala impactful, generates scholarship dollars

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A.J. Fletcher Foundation Executive Director and Vice President Damon Circosta accepts The HBCU Triumph Legacy Award during the inaugural HBCU Triumph Gala in Raleigh, N.C., Dec. 1, 2023. He is joined by (left to right) Shaw University Vice President for Institutional Advancement Marilyn Baldwin Richards, Shaw University President and CEO Dr. Paulette Dillard, A.J. Fletcher Foundation Board Member Maria Spaulding, a Shaw University alumna; and Miss Shaw University Janell Odom, a senior.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Leaders and alumni from historically Black colleges and universities, plus a wide range of supporters, rallied around and advanced the mission of HBCUs with an evening of retrospectives and fundraising Dec. 1.

The sold-out inaugural HBCU Triumph Gala generated over $600,000 in scholarships for Shaw University students.

“The funds raised during the gala will help provide scholarships for Shaw University students. The contributions were generous and given by those who understand the necessity of the continued existence of HBCUs,” Shaw University President and CEO Dr. Paulette Dillard said.

Shaw University coordinated the gala and honored Congresswoman Alma Adams, the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) for supporting HBCUs over the years. The HBCU Triumph Legacy Awards were the first of their kind.

“Shaw University, the mother of African-American colleges in North Carolina, has a long and proud history, and under the great leadership of President Paulette Dillard, its best days are still ahead of it. With Shaw will rise the hopes and dreams of every young boy and girl in North Carolina seeking a better future,” Adams said.

The gala was the signature event of The December 1st Triumph Project, also an inaugural undertaking and so named to salute the Dec. 1, 1865, founding of Shaw University. Accompanying events included the kickoff of the James A. Forbes, Sr. Lecture Series and an exhibition featuring commissioned portrayals of Estey Hall, the iconic Shaw University structure that became the first in the country built to house Black female college students. Nellie Ashford, a Shaw University alumna, and Roger James did the artwork. Shaw University is the first HBCU in North Carolina and among the oldest in the country.

“I was thrilled to attend Shaw University’s historic Triumph Gala and to accept a special award on behalf of UNCF. Congratulations to President Dillard and the entire Shaw University community for orchestrating an awesome event,” UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax said.

“The A.J. Fletcher Foundation has been a stalwart supporter of Shaw University, and we’re humbled to receive the HBCU Triumph Legacy Award. Moreover, we’re excited about the future Shaw University’s past has poised us to undertake together,” A.J. Fletcher Foundation Executive Director and Vice President Damon Circosta said.

The A.J. Fletcher Foundation was instrumental in producing the “Shaw Rising” documentary, which won an Emmy Award that was displayed during the gala.

“I have made it my mission to ensure that the impact of our institutions is recognized at the highest levels of Congress,” said Adams, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus. “I will strive to be worthy of this award, and I will continue to fight to ensure HBCUs not only survive but thrive, and are given an equal opportunity to deliver success, opportunity and enlightenment to their graduates.”

Source: John McCann/Shaw University Communications