Fundraiser Celebrates Black Excellence, Giving Back
By Monique Wingard, Chicago Defender
Wall to wall Black excellence, in abundance, with a purpose — to invest in the education of Chicago’s best and brightest. The 100 Black Men of Chicago (100BMC) celebrated the 4th Annual Scholarship Fundraiser and White Party on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the SX Sky Bar, a luxe rooftop venue located at 808 South Michigan Avenue, overlooking Grant Park.
One survey of the room was enough to let you know that all came dressed to impress and celebrate another year of giving back. An event like the White Party allows supporters an opportunity to mix, mingle, and breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that this is not just another “white party.” It is a vehicle for building a brighter future for the next generation–and one of many initiatives provided by 100BMC.
“We are a multi-faceted organization that provides programmatic initiatives throughout the year, said Carl H. Tutt, Jr, Chairman and Board President of 100BMC. “This event focuses on the economic needs of students going to college. Scholarship funds can be used for tuition, room and board, fees, books, and travel.”
Tutt also says that he understands that even though some students receive a full-ride to college, there are still other expenses to cover. “We find ways to fill in the economic gaps,” he said.
In 2016, the first annual scholarship fundraiser and White Party, “A Night at the Museum,” brought in about $23,000 and took place at the Museum of Science and Industry with over 800 guests, including then Democratic nominee for Illinois State Attorney, Kim Foxx, and Chicago City Treasurer, Kurt Summers, serving as honorary chairs.
Now, in 2019, 100BMC has reached a new milestone with the help of individual donations and sponsors, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Enterprise, FedEx, Hennessy, Mielle Organics, Miller Coors, PNC Bank, SCurl, and Titos. While this year’s count of 450 attendees does not mirror that of the first event, the support from the community, 100BMC members, supporters, and their impact, financially speaks for itself.
“I consider this the best, not the most,” says Robert “R.J.” Carter, Board Liaison for 100BMC, during the event. “We surpassed the fundraising goal, set at $15,000. We are set to reach $30,000.” Carter remains committed to the mission of 100BMC because of his desire to give back and provide a resource he says he lacked growing up in Robert Taylor Housing Projects. “I want 100 Black Men to be a household name when people think about where to go to help children in need.”
The White Party was complete with drinks and dancing courtesy of DJ Toure and DJ Sean Mac, as well as vendor tables from Allstate, Dr. Herbal’s Organic and Vegan Hair Care.
Selena Lomack said the common theme heard during the party was that 2019 is definitely in the top five, if not, the best of the four events, so far. Lomack is not just an attendee, but a member of the 100BMC events team and a mentee, who has seen firsthand the impact of the organization on helping college-bound Chicago students continue their education. After making it clear that women have a place in ensuring the success of 100BMC as committee members and mentors, Lomack beamed with pride recalling the day her cousin, Sterling Wright, now a senior at Morehouse College, received funds to complete his degree in biology.
“This year’s event was a great success, says Tutt. “Those that support The 100 understand the importance of our efforts.”
Tutt says the overall goal is to “Create Opportunities and Change Lives” for African American youth in the Chicago area. “That’s why they come out in such great numbers. This event is just one of the ways to help us do just that.”
Students will be awarded scholarships at the fall scholarship fair on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the UIC Pavilion. The fair, now in its 17th year, has distributed more than $80 million in funds for Chicago area students.
“It really is a sight to see,” says Will McNeil, an eight-year member of the organization and former membership chair and executive committee member. “So many young people chasing their dreams.” McNeil’s dedication to the mission of The 100 is made evident in the 10 years he has served as a mentor for the organization.
For more information about the fall scholarship fair, visit 100bmc.org. If you are searching for the next opportunity to support the work of 100BMC, mark your calendars for Saturday, Sept. 21, to attend the Health and Wellness Expo at Malcolm X College.
“This program initiative includes health screenings, workshops, interactive games, and a blood drive specifically for the West and South sides of Chicago,” says Tutt. “Our goal for this event is to help people live healthier and longer.”