The Urban League of Philadelphia held its 10th Whitney M. Young Empowerment Awards Luncheon Dec. 4 at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel. Nearly 480 guests attended the event, which raised $89,000 for the nonprofit.

ULP president Patricia A. Coulter and board chair Bobby Keyes presented awards to five individuals and businesses who were recognized for their volunteerism and leadership in the African American community. Monica Burch of PNC received the Urban Leader Under 40 Award, Darryl Anderson of Lee Hecht Harrison won the Volunteer Award, and Harold Epps of PRWT Services was presented with the Business Leader Award. Also honored were State Farm and United Bank of Philadelphia.

William R. Hite, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, was the luncheon's keynote speaker. Hite's talk revolved around the importance of engaging the city's at-risk students.

"Only 57 percent earn high school diplomas in four years," said Hite. "Only about half are reading and doing math on grade level." Despite these statistics, "We have to expect from all our young people that they can do anything."

A highlight of the luncheon was the announcement by Aramark executive Dennis Maple that Aramark was joining IBC/AmeriHealth and Comcast/NBCUniversal as the third title sponsor for the 2013 National Urban League Conference to be held in Philadelphia July 24-27. The conference, expected to draw about 8,000 conventioneers, will be community-focused with many activities open to the public, including a marketplace to showcase local businesses and a jobs fair.