(PRNewswire) — How do you stay safe during a pandemic, raise money for a great cause and get some exercise in on the side? Through the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) National Virtual Walk for Education®, of course! The new digital fundraiser replaces the annual in-person walk events that many of the UNCF local offices conduct each spring, summer and fall, taking what’s typically been a market-by-market approach on to a fully nationwide event. 

The revamped, highly anticipated UNCF National Virtual Walk for Education® aims to raise funds to support historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and the students they serve through the help of individuals, corporations and other group donors. While the country is practicing social distancing, the event will engage participants in activities to walk, run, cycle and dance safely—all while having fun and still raising money for UNCF. The Walk is set for 2 p.m. EDT/1p.m. CDT/11 a.m. PDT on Sept. 19. 

The event will feature performances by Anthony Hamilton and Questlove with appearances by Lynn Whitfield, Jonathan Slocumb, Wendell Pierce and others. A longtime UNCF supporter, Grammy® Award-winning R&B singer Anthony Hamilton has previously supported UNCF events such as the 2019 UNCF Mayor’s Masked Balls in Charlotte and Birmingham. Actress and producer Lynn Whitfield recently graced the stage as host for the 2020 “A Mind Is…” National Gala in March, and made an appearance at Atlanta’s UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball in 2018. In addition, comedian and actor and HBCU graduate of Oakwood University, Jonathan Slocumb served as emcee at the New Orleans UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball in 2019.

“For more than 76 years, UNCF has fueled HBCUs with vital resources to educate generations of African American and other minority students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “During an unprecedented time in our history compounded by COVID-19 and racial disparities, our students and institutions are faced with enormous challenges now more than ever. We are at risk of washing away a generation of talented and deserving African American and minority students. We need as many donations as possible right now because the students we help now will be our next generation of doctors, nurses, biologists, virologists, epidemiologists—the pandemic frontliners of the future. We invite everyone to join our new National Virtual Walk for Education to help ensure better futures for us all.”

A UNCF survey of more than 5,000 students across 17 HBCUs found that many are dealing with difficulties such as sick family members, trouble paying bills and general stress from the ongoing pandemic and recent protests against police brutality. Support is needed now more than ever as students and institutions are faced with challenges including COVID-19 and racial disparities.

Current national sponsors of the UNCF National Virtual Walk for Education® are  Colgate-Palmolive, Global Payment, Inc., Essentia Water, Bayer and Arch Capital Group, LTD.

Dr. Billy Hawkins, president of the oldest HBCU in Alabama, Talladega College, will deliver remarks on behalf of the UNCF-member institutions and presidents. Miss National UNCF Alia Scott, Wiley College; student Brionna McGhee, Xavier University; and alumna Velvet Gunn, Lane College, will also be speaking during the event.

The digital fundraiser will also honor local supporters, highlight UNCF HBCU presidents and include a celebrity DJ spinning live. Participants will be able to engage in a celebrity fitness warm-up including up-beat music to dance to all in honor of supporting HBCUs and their students.

To register for the event and find the local office that supports your area, please go to UNCF.org/NationalWalk.