In order to create an endowment fund for the University of the West Indies (UWI) in the United States, the AFUWI was founded in 1948 with U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as an original patron. Since that time, the foundation has raised funds for scholarships, grants, and various projects to further the development of UWI. Contemporary supporters include former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Spike Lee, and Denis O’Brien.
The foundation’s premier fundraising activity in the United States is its annual gala. The event has garnered the support of major companies such as Verizon, General Electric, and AT&T. It is during this gala that the prestigious Legacy Awards are bestowed on individuals who have made outstanding achievements in their respective fields.
The 19th annual gala was held on February 24, 2016, at Pierre on 61st Street. The black tie affair featured dinner, a program, auction, and dessert party.
Established in 1948, UWI caters to 45,000 students with 9,000 graduates each year. It has more than 120,000 alumni including 18 former and current Caribbean heads of states and prime ministers and one Nobel laureate. UWI has four campuses located in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, and Tobago that cater to the educational needs of the 16 English-speaking nations in the Caribbean.