In total, more than 34,000 people attended the New York Urban League’s 39th Annual Football Classic on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Familiar faces in the crowd included talk show host, Wendy Williams and CBS 2 News anchor, Maurice DuBois and special guest Maria Cantarella, daughter of Whitney M. Young. The game made history as the first collegiate football game played in the nation’s newest football arena.
In typical HBCU swagger, the day included a sea of tailgaters, a vendor pavilion, an intense battle of the bands, an appearance by Grammy Award winning artist, Mary J. Blige and another match-up between the Howard University Bisons and the Morgan State Bears. In the end Morgan State beat Howard University 20-3, but the NYUL emerged as the big winner. Proceeds from the Football Classic go to their Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.
To date, the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has distributed more than $20M to deserving New York students. In June of this year, twenty New York students were awarded scholarships. The students were chosen due to their promise inside the classroom as well as dedication to their community. In September, they made their way to the campuses of HBCUs, Ivy League schools, New York City Colleges and State Universities.
As part of a joint scholarship award between the New York Urban League and Mary J. Blige’s Foundation FFAWN, Blige presented college freshmen, Camry Rosario with a $50,000 scholarship check during halftime. “Education is power,” said Blige. “You know where you’ve been and you know where you’re going when you’re educated.”
Arva Rice, President & CEO of the NYUL is thrilled with the turn-out for the event but is already thinking about how to increase attendance for 2011. “Today was simply amazing! This event provided young people with exposure to the HBCU college experience. The energy was electric,” said Rice. “This year we received more than 248 scholarship applications-- three times as many as we’ve received in the past. As the need increases, we have to ramp up resources to meet that need. Everyone deserves an education and we are committed to helping young people reach their full potential.”
About the NYUL
The New York Urban League, which is celebrating its 90th Anniversary this year, was founded by a group of prominent New Yorkers concerned with the poor state of blacks migrating to New York City from the south. From its inception it provided employment and connections for migrating blacks bridging the adjustment from the agricultural/rural life to the industrial urban center. Each decade following, “The League” provided critical services such as emergency aid for the unemployed during the Great Depression; formed the Committee for Interracial Voluntary Hospitals to provide care and work in local hospitals; negotiated the opening of employment for blacks in the airline, brewing, and baking industries; created “Street Academies” which became a national model for high school students; published the first State of Black New York report; and created its signature events including Frederick Douglas Dinner, Whitney M. Young Jr. Classic, and Champion of Diversity Breakfast among many other milestones.