Dillard University and Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans and Philander Smith College in Little Rock are historically black colleges and universities striving for excellence as they educate predominantly African American students. College is expensive, and it takes a combination of family help, grant, loan, school and scholarship support to get students into college and keep them there.

That’s where the United Negro College Fund helps. The HBCUs receive UNCF support to help keeping tuition down at a rate of 26% lower than comparable institutions. Some get help with grants, advocacy and teacher education programs.

All three of these schools are connected to the region, and each benefits from the annual UNCF Walk for Education at Audubon Park. For those who might have happened by the park Saturday morning without knowing what was going on, about 2,000 participants showed up to walk and to support Dillard students like Jordan Kane, 19, a junior accounting major who is Miss UNCF at her school and Xavier students like Henrietta Denise Ssettimba, 20, a junior sociology major. Fund officials are still counting, but about $100,000 was raised with the help of dozens of corporate and community supporters.

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Those who missed this year’s walk can visit www.Uncf.org/neworleans to help area youths advance their education and careers.