COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — In gowns and suits, nearly 800 people gathered for the 18th annual Mayor’s Masked Ball held at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center.

As people danced the night away, there remained one focus and end goal — raising money for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).

UNCF’s greatest mission is providing scholarships to help students go to college.

“We desperately need to try to raise more funds to allow these young people an opportunity to do that, primarily because it’s just getting tougher and tougher for them to try to find scholarships, find a way into some of those other universities,” said Mayor Skip Henderson. “So, it’s just a great program. It’s a great opportunity to kind of invest in our future.”

Mayor Henderson says events like this serve as an investment in the youth’s growth and allows them to become better citizens. 

The evening’s fundraising goal was $200,000. UNCF’s Assistant Vice President, Justine Boyd, has been a part of the organization for 8 years. She says it’s important to remember — a mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in.  

“It is the mission,” said Boyd. “It is the work that has had such a great impact on so many individuals. It’s when I hear the stories of our students who speak about if it wasn’t for UNCF, they would not be able to attend college.”

UNCF has helped more than half a million students earn college degrees over the past 78 years.