Disney News This Week: Disney Donates $1 Million to UNCF, New Tinker Bell Release Recognized with the Common Sense Seal, and Walt Disney Animation Studios Reveals Zootopia Image

United Negro College Fund (UNCF), one of the nation’s leading minority scholarship organizations, announced a $1 million commitment from The Walt Disney Company to provide scholarships to outstanding African American students and give them the tools to realize their professional goals. The Walt Disney Company UNCF Corporate Scholars Program, administered by UNCF, will offer financial assistance to high-achieving African American students in underserved communities across the country, while expanding educational and career resources for them. “Higher education is the key to a successful future, especially in an increasingly knowledge-driven economy,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Our program with UNCF will provide tools and resources to make college more accessible for promising students in historically underserved communities, so they are prepared and empowered to achieve their career dreams.” Students can find additional information at www.uncf.org/disneyscholars. The application process opens March 16, 2015 and closes May 15, 2015.

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast is the first direct-to-home release to be recognized with the Common Sense Seal.“The film, from Walt Disney Studios, is a testament to curiosity, heart, independence, the power of teamwork and unlikely friendships,” Common Sense Media said in the announcement. The Common Sense Seal was created in 2014 to recognize quality media for families. The films are selected based on their potential to significantly impact families by presenting worthwhile themes, positive messages and role models and have broad appeal across a range of ages. The seal has been awarded seven times to such notable studio and independent films as The Book of Life, Big Hero 6 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

One year ahead of its release date, Walt Disney Animation Studios released an image and a synopsis of Zootopia, their 55th feature-length animated film. The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Zootopia, a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (Tangled, Bolt) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph, The Simpsons) and co-directed by Jared Bush (Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero), opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.