Since accepting leadership of UNCF, I have had the opportunity to reflect on how important UNCF donors are in the lives of our institutions and our students. The donors and supporters of the UNCF are legendary. It is well known that donors like you have helped more than 300,000 young people to graduate from our institutions over the past 60 years. As a former president of Dillard University, a UNCF member institution, I can assure you that your support helps to ensure that our institutions can meet their financial needs. In addition, UNCF scholarships that are supported by your donations make the difference between students attending and staying in school, or not having the opportunity to attend at all.
UNCF also provides educational opportunities that go beyond just operating support and scholarships. UNCF internship programs allow students to gain actual work experience in a corporate environment, thus better preparing them for the demands of the workplace. There, they use the latest technology, are exposed to state-of-the-art equipment and become immersed in and gain an understanding of the corporate world. In addition, UNCF faculty development programs assist faculty members who want to pursue further formal education or to undertake independent research in order to strengthen and enrich their classroom teaching. Your support continues to be vital to our success in overcoming the obstacles to educational achievement. You are well aware that many states and the federal government are slashing educational budgets, and that student financial aid is not keeping pace with rises in tuition averaging as much as 30% over the last three-year period, the steepest incline in history. Yet with the help of our donors, UNCF institutions have kept rates at approximately 52% less than the national average for private four-year colleges.
Your support does more than just help young people achieve their educational goals, it also helps to sustain our national and global communities. These are the young people who will be the future leaders in our world. You are helping to train them now to take their places as teachers, professors, doctors, scientists, investors, and other professionals in your community. The young people you help today will serve you tomorrow. I am excited to work with you to ensure that UNCF students do not join the 220,000 other students who had to forgo a college education last year because of money or the nearly 50% of college students that never finish their studies. Your financial support, volunteer time, as well as your encouragement and prayers are integral to our continued success. I look forward to working with you to do even greater things over UNCF's second sixty years.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.®