Thurgood Marshall College Fund Raises Over $5.6 Million for Black Students

The 18th Annual Leadership Institute presented by Wells Fargo convened at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 26 –30. The Leadership Institute weekend was highlighted by the Thurgood Marshall  Anniversary Awards Gala which raised over $5.6 million in one night to support historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students.

“The millions raised at our gala highlights precisely why TMCF continues to stand out as the premier higher education organization committed to supporting the students attending our nation’s publicly supported HBCUs,” said Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF president and CEO. “This was an awesome evening for the entire black college and higher education community.”

For four days, students engaged in plenary sessions focused on financial literacy and were exposed to 21st-century skill development to help them achieve future success.

“I have met so many individuals that are truly invested in my success who have taken personal time to walk through opportunities that exist,” said second-year Leadership Institute student Daniel Lee from Central State University.

Students Compete to Attend the Conference 

Attending the Leadership Institute conference is a highly competitive process that vets Thurgood Marshall College Fund students throughout the country. Four hundred and five students were selected to attend the Leadership Institute out of 2,000 total applicants. 

“I met with the chairman of the honors department and we talked about the application process, which I applied for shortly after. I was then interviewed on campus and required to complete the necessary requirements to be able to attend the Leadership Institute,” said Virginia State University student Jneva Norfleet. 


Dr. Harry L. Williams, TMCF President and CEO


Developing and cultivating strengths was a critical focus for JPMorgan Chase as they presented a student session at the conference, “Get In The Box By Thinking Out of The Box.” Discussion points included the importance of career flexibility, modeling behaviors that demonstrate readiness for managerial and C-suite positions, and the benefits of taking on unique assignments. 

“When you are an ethnic minority you are faced with a set of challenges in any corporate environment, but the common alignment between all of us who are identifying with some dimension of diversity is to individually lean into that,” said Jonathan Simon, Advancing Black Leaders & Head of Student Strategy for JPMorgan Chase. “Fundamental characteristics and traits that each student must have to excel is a commitment to excellence, ambition, drive, and a hunger to learn. We want people who want to be excellent.” 

TMCF Texas Southern University Student Brand Ambassador David Anderson said, “Any student that is not here needs to understand that the difference is in the TMCF opportunities. Yes, it is competitive to be selected into the Leadership Institute but it is an opportunity that you can grab.” 

“All of these sessions that we go into provide us the chance to go into a critical thinking space,” said Computer Science major Jovanie Smith, a senior at Southern University A&E College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve learned the importance of becoming a professional that initiates success by working for it.”

Corporations Making Investments in TMCF

Networking is a powerful tool that can be used to open up doors of opportunity when meaningful relationships are developed. During the “Power Networking Fireside Chat,” United Airlines Chief Diversity Officer Gregory D. Jones stressed the importance of communicating effectively. 

“What is really important is to understand the audience or people on the other side of your communication. You must be mindful of your audience and the scenario because things may be completely misread depending on how you communicate. We have all heard that you can send an email in all caps and it can be interpreted by the receiver in various ways, so you have to be aware.” 

TMCF Leadership Institute Conference Presenting Partner Wells Fargo has invested over $7 million into TMCF and the Leadership Institute because of its belief that the students are the best in the country. As Senior Vice-President at Wells Fargo’s Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Philanthropy Team, Dewey Norwood has a clearly defined mission to help students gain greater access to educational and career resources. 

“For us, the investments that we are making with TMCF are very strategic. We understand the vision and we understand who we are serving. For us, we are happy to be national strategic partners with TMCF.”