United Negro College Fund Walk for Education
Dozens of Caltrans employees walk to raise funds to support thousands of college students.
This year, as in the past, Caltrans employees dawned their white or fluorescent green Caltrans t-shirts and laced up their running shoes to take part in the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) 27th Annual Walk for Education on Saturday, May 16, to raise funds for thousands of college students locally and nationwide.
More than 30 Caltrans employees and their family members were able to get a healthy dose of exercise and philanthropy, take pictures with the event’s Celebrity Chair, Michael Cooper, a former member of the Championship Los Angeles Lakers in the 80’s and 90’s, and partake in some of the goodies at each of the booths.
Caltrans participation in the Walk for Education signifies the Department’s commitment to being more than a steward of freeways and highways but a partner and a mentor. Participating in events such as the Walk for Education "helps to further reinforce the Department's commitment to the local community at the same time building a stronger link between college and high school for students," said Deputy District Director of External Affairs Deborah Robertson.
As Thomas Knox, Small Business Program Administrator put it, "Events like the Walk help to create partnerships between Caltrans, the community, and the businesses in Los Angeles."
The Walk for Education was also personal for some of those who walked. Many Caltrans employees see their participation in the Walk as a way to reach out and help young people navigate their way to and through college.
Labell Washington, a Caltrans Senior Delineator, says, "I have been happy to be a part of this endeavor for the last three years as a member of the Caltrans team. I have a 15-year old son and I hope one day he will reap the benefits of what this charity is trying to accomplish.”
Stephanie Jones, who heads up District 7's UNCF employee committee, said that several events occur throughout the year to support the UNCF fundraising drive. From golf tournaments, a hoop tournament (in which this writer came in third place), Women's History Day, and other donation drives, District 7 employees have been very committed. This year the committee raised $3,700.
"Due to the tough economic times, people have not given as much as in the past," says Jones. However, tough times do not mean that District 7's employees will stop helping to raise funds. "This is a worthy cause; every student should have the opportunity to go to college and the UNCF helps those cannot afford it," says Jones.
Clarence Benjamin Jr., Development Director at the Los Angeles UNCF, estimated that over 800 people attended this year's Walk, a few hundred down from last year, most likely due to the slow economy.
UNCF supports 60,000 students of all creeds and colors at over 900 universities across the country. The UNCF is also one of the administrators for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Scholarship and several other major scholarships.