The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala

The Gala is our most significant fundraising event of the year. More importantly, it affords us the opportunity to celebrate our Volunteer of the Year, Minority Business, Corporate Leadership and Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement award winners.

And, the evening is always a celebration to remember, with good food and fellowship and top-flight music provided by acts such as Jeffrey Osborne, The Whispers, The Spinners, The Temptations, The O’Jays, En Vogue, Boney James, Morris Day & The Time, James “JT” Taylor, formerly the voice of Kool & The Gang, and Tower of Power!

The Gala also provides an excellent opportunity for networking with top area business professionals, and an investment in a corporate table is a good investment for local businesses.

The Equal Opportunity Awards Gala is a lot of fun, and we hope to see you there! Held the fourth Thursday of October each year, the gala is a must-do business event.

Due to the pandemic, our 2020 Equal Opportunity Awards Gala has been canceled. 
In its place, we are bringing you The Urban League Impact Week, a week of education, celebration and storytelling in partnership with WBIR 10 News, along with a special virtual event on Thursday, Oct. 29!
Click here for details


Sponsorships and Donations

Fundraising is critical to the Urban League’s ability to provide programs and services to the community. Gala sponsorship is an important part of our fundraising. Sponsors include a diverse group of corporate, government and community leaders, providing prime exposure opportunities for your organization. Sponsors also are recognized on video screens, during the awards program and in our souvenir program. Contact us at 865-524-5511 to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of so many through your support, or you may choose to simply make a donation below.

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Corporate Leadership

Recognizes a company, governmental agency or entity that has shown sensitivity to diversity, employment trends and/or special program involvement and support of the Urban League and its mission.


2016: Mayor Madeline Rogero, City of Knoxville
2015: Randy Boyd, TN Commissioner of Economic & Community Development
2014: Pinnacle Financial Partners

Minority Business

Recognizes a minority-owned business that has made an economic as well as a social impact in the community.

2016: Jarnigan & Son Mortuary – Beal Bourne
2015: East Tennessee Mechanical Contractors
2014: Marc Nelson Denim

Volunteer of the Year

Salutes an individual who has made a significant impact on the programs and services of the Knoxville Area Urban League and the community.

2016: Sanford Smith
2015: National Achievers Society Advisory Committee
2014: Nicholas Jones, Lonnie Jones Insurance

Whitney M. Young, Jr. Lifetime Achievement

The most prestigious of all Urban League Awards, this award is named to honor the fourth executive director of the National Urban League (1961-1971). Mr. Young worked tenaciously to forge new alliances and coalitions to build bridges of understanding among the races.

2016: Reverend Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Judy Gibson
2015: Theotis Robinson, Jr.
2014: Rita Geier