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August 28, 2014, 9:21 pm

Urban League grants awards, scholarships

The Urban League of Philadelphia’s Empowerment Week Gala serves to celebrate diversity in the corporate community and award college scholarships.

Fifty scholarships worth more than $100,000 will be awarded during the gala held May 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market St. Ten years ago, ULP initiated its Community Scholarship Program by awarding six college scholarships totaling $12,000 at its annual gala.

“Our theme this year for Empowerment Week is strengthening the Economy through Empowering Partnerships. Nowhere is this theme more evident than in our Community Scholarship Program,” said Patricia A. Coulter, president and chief executive officer of ULP.

“All of our scholarships are donated by private individuals affiliated with our organization, our board members, Affinity Group members and our corporate sponsors. What can do more to empower our community and strengthen our economy than supporting our young people in the quest for higher education?”

ULP board chair Robert Keyes challenged his fellow board members to raise $100,000 this year — and they responded by exceeding that amount and easily surpassing last year’s total of $70,000.

“The scholarships are my passion, and that passion is contagious. I commend all of our board members and friends who contributed these scholarships,” Keyes said. “All of the scholarship winners will attend the gala and will meet the person who donated the scholarship face-to-face. This is a very touching moment.”

During the event, ULP will present PECO with the Vision Award, Union Packaging of Yeadon with the Spirit of Innovation Award and Michael Rashid, president and CEO of Amerihealth Mercy, with the inaugural Power of Diversity Leadership Award.

The ULP’s Vision Award is presented annually to a company that has a strong corporate tradition of diversity. PECO, the Philadelphia region’s supplier of gas and electricity, is known for its support of diversity throughout the organization.

Pearson, president of Union Packaging, will accept the Spirit of Innovation Award, given to an African American-owned company. Union Packaging, based in Yeadon, produces environmentally-friendly packaging for fast-food chains, including McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s.

Rashid has led Amerihealth Mercy from being a local HMO serving Medicaid recipients to becoming a national force, providing health care for the country’s underserved population. His Diamond in the Rough program has enabled hundreds of enthusiastic but under-educated employees to succeed in their jobs and continue their education.

The gala will be hosted by NBC 10 anchor Lori Wilson.

The gala is the culmination of a week of activities including an Empowerment Week kickoff celebration held May 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Hyatt Regency Penn’s Landing, 201 South Columbus Blvd.

The evening features a small business showcase. Curtis Gregory of the city’s Commerce Department will moderate a panel discussion titled, “So You Think You Want to Run Your Own Business.”

Panel members, including caterer David Simms, Yvette Mitchell and this year’s Spirit of Innovation honoree Michael Pearson, will offer insights on building a business from the ground up. The evening will conclude with a social hour.

A jobs summit will be held May 15 at Drexel University, Bossone Research Center, 3140 Market St. where ULP’s partner companies will empower 200 pre-registered job hunters and set them on the road to economic strength. Companies will discuss employment opportunities at the opening session.

Afterwards, participants will attend one or more of the breakout sessions. Sessions will focus on the ULP’s Connect to Work program; the status of the current job market; and professional development, including presentation and networking skills.

A youth employment day will be held May 16 at South Philadelphia High School. This event connects participants in the 2012 Urban Leadership Forum class will connect with 9th- and 12th-graders from South Philly High to engage them on matters pertaining to college preparation and future careers.

A Sweet Scoop of Community Empowerment Day will be held May 17 from noon to 12:30 p.m. at Bassetts Ice Cream Stand, Reading Terminal Market, 45 North 12th St.

Coulter will join Mayor Nutter and other community leaders at the PBJ Celebrity Scoop sponsored by the Philadelphia Business Journal with proceeds donated to Habitat for Humanity. Bassetts, the nation’s oldest ice cream maker, created this limited edition Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

ARAMARK is the lead sponsor for the 2012 Empowerment Week lineup.


Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .