May 29, 2002 – The University of the Virgin Islands and the Tom Joyner Foundation have raised $200,000 in scholarship funds for UVI students — and the money is still coming in.
The nationally syndicated radio jock, whose "Tom Joyner Morning Show" is aired daily on Knight Quality Stations' KISS 101.3 FM, announced the results of a month-long fund-raising campaign during a luncheon held Wednesday at Bluebeard's Castle Hotel.
Joyner spent the day on St. Thomas as part of his seven-day Fantastic Voyage cruise aboard the Explorer of the Seas.
The luncheon, in itself a fund-raiser for UVI, was attended by more than 100 people including UVI staff, administrators, alumni and students; business owners; and representatives of community organizations.
The Tom Joyner Foundation earlier this year selected UVI to be showcased among the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities for the month of May.
That selection put UVI in the national spotlight for fund-raising plugs during Joyner's radio show, which is heard by more than 8 million listeners each day.
The Joyner Foundation solicited donations on UVIs behalf from national corporations. Locally, UVI administrators, fund-raisers and public relations staff ran an aggressive campaign as well, soliciting funds from alumni, community organizations, local businesses and individuals.
To date $92,000 of the proceeds has been distributed in scholarships to 43 UVI students on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses, according to Tom Joyner Jr., the radio personality's son and chief executive officer of the foundation.
"Raising $200,00 in one month is very good," Joyner Jr. said. "UVI is on track to match or beat other Historically Black Colleges and Universities that have raised $300,000 to $500,000 during the past 18 months."
Joyner Jr. said it is not uncommon for donations to continue well after the designated fund-raising month is over.
His father, wearing a peach and white striped linen suit and brown sandals, praised UVI for what he called a "unique campaign."
"Our mailbox was crammed with a lot of small checks for UVI written for $10, $5 and even $2," he said. "That tells us that, no matter what their status is in life, there are people supporting your university. This is a good example of what a grassroots campaign should be."
He invited the UVI fund-raising staff to attend national Joyner Foundation meetings to brief other HBCU's on fund-raising techniques.
Most of the $200,000 raised to date has come from large corporations and foundations. Among those donating $10,000 or more were Virgin Islands Rum Industries, Daimler Chrysler, Thurgood Marshall Scholarships Fund, Corporate Services Group, Exxon/Mobile Corp. and Anheuser-Busch. Some of those corporations were represented at Wednesday's lunch. Also on hand was a representative of Equal/Merisant, which donated laptop computers to a half dozen students from both campuses who were in attendance at the luncheon.
The UVI campaign also galvanized support from many local businesses, individuals and service organizations including fraternities and sororities. During the luncheon, representatives of a number of those groups presented Joyner with $1,000 checks for UVI. They were:
The India Association of the Virgin Islands, the UVI St. Thomas-St. John Alumni chapter, Medical Air Services Association, UVI Student Affairs Department, UVI Class of 1972, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Jamaica Association of St. Thomas-St. John, Frances Properties, Century 21, and individual supporter Richard Callwood.
UVI President Orville Kean offered hearty thanks to Joyner — the self-described "hardest-working man in radio."
"We know you are the hardest-working man in radio," Kean said. "But you have shown that you are also the hardest-working man in higher education — working on behalf of historically black colleges."
Joyner, who graduated from Tuskegee University, said support for HBCU's is a family tradition. His father, who also attended the luncheon, graduated from Florida A&M University in 1939. Joyner said his mother and his grandparents on both sides attended HBCU's as well. "HBCU's are a part of my DNA," he joked.
Turning serious, he added, "When you have strong HBCU's, you have strong communities."
The luncheon capped a busy morning for Joyner, who is spending the week with 3,000 passengers aboard the Explorer of the Seas for a seven-day party on the seas. He made a morning appearance at Kmart in Lockhart Gardens, where he shook hands with residents, gave away prizes and listened to pan music played by the Territorial Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra.
Despite the hectic schedule, and admitting to sleepless nights about the Fantastic Voyage, Joyner was in rare form during the luncheon, demonstrating his trademark humor.
He taunted those who did not sign up for this year's cruise: "You-all missed a good party. Last night the Gap Band played for two and half hours, then they were joined by Earth Wind & Fire on stage for another five hours … We have been partying for three days straight."
He allowed as how his on-air colleagues Sybil, Myra, and J. Anthony Brown skipped the luncheon to sleep in.
But he called the excursion a party with a purpose. "The whole purpose of the cruise is to raise money for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities like the University of the Virgin Islands," he said.
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