LaWanna McKinley White

Ebony Bobcat Network President LaWanna McKinley White helped to organize the Ohio University Alumni Association’s “Afternoon at the Theatre” event in Cleveland, Ohio.

Photographer: Michael Malone

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Ebony Bobcat Network theater event benefits OHIO’s Urban Scholars

Nearly 90 Cleveland-area Ohio University alumni attended an “Afternoon at the Theatre” at Cleveland’s Playhouse Square on Sunday, Feb. 17. The special event featured a performance of The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith – a musical set in 1937 during Smith’s final performance.

Hosted by the Ohio University Alumni Association (OUAA) and the Ebony Bobcat Network (EBN), the event was developed by Cleveland-area residents Connie Lawson-Davis and LaWanna McKinley White to benefit the Urban Scholars Program.

“We are so grateful to the Ebony Bobcats for their diligence in raising funds in support of the Urban Scholars Program,” said Tyrone Carr, who works in education and outreach in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Their efforts are an inspiration to OHIO’s current Urban Scholars.”

To date, EBN has raised more than $18,500 for the Ebony Bobcat Network Urban Scholarship.

Lawson-Davis is a 1967 graduate of OHIO’s Patton College of Education. She is a member of EBN and the Ohio University Women’s Club of Greater Cleveland. As the EBN vice president and fundraising chair, she has helped coordinate the theater event for three consecutive years. White, a 1965 Patton College graduate, is the president of EBN and a member of the Cleveland Regional The Promise Lives Campaign Committee and the OUAA’s Leaders Advisory Council.

“This is a unique fundraising event created by EBN a few years ago to raise money for the Urban Scholars Program,” Kellea Tibbs, assistant director of affinity programs for the OUAA, said. “The partnership EBN has with the Cleveland Playhouse is a great collaboration that puts Ohio University in the spotlight and provides an opportunity for a variety of alumni and friends to support the worthy cause of raising scholarship money for students.”

The Urban Scholars Program, established in 2004, is a need-based scholarship program for graduates of urban school districts in Ohio. The program provides scholarships and professional development support to students from underrepresented groups with demonstrated financial need, academic achievement, and the desire and motivation to succeed.

To make a gift to the EBN Urban Scholarship, contact The Ohio University Foundation at 800-592-FUND or Checks may be made payable to The Ohio University Foundation (be sure to write “EBN Urban” in the notes section) and sent to the Foundation at P.O. Box 869, Athens, Ohio 45701. Gifts also can be made online at