UNCF among six Intermediaries receiving $100M to lead Institutional Transformation at HBCUs and other Institutions of Higher Education

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Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231 monique.lenoir@uncf.org

UNCF’s racial-justice approach to educational equity and innovative strategies continue to set the bar for institutional transformation best practices

To help historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) undergo fundamental changes to dramatically increase success for all students, UNCF has received a catalytic investment to accelerate institutional transformation efforts from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The first of its kind—at this scale—in American higher education, this systemic transformation will provide UNCF, along with five other intermediaries, $100 million over five years to power higher education as a racial and socioeconomic equity engine. These investments were awarded based on each organization’s demonstrated expertise and potential to disrupt generational poverty.

“Advancing Black higher education through institutional transformation is in UNCF’s DNA,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF. “This grant will further the proven strategies of UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building in ushering the next phase of Black colleges and universities.”

Through its transformation work via its Institute for Capacity Building (ICB), UNCF counts 41 institutional partners, a network purposely designed to represent a diversity of HBCUs and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs) that vary in size, type and transformation focus. As UNCF plans to expand to more than 50 institutions in 2023, the impact of the intermediary efforts is already apparent with partners reporting increased rates in enrollment, retention, graduation, internship and post-graduation placement in career-related jobs or graduate studies.

“Research shows our schools have historically done and continue to do a lot more with a lot less. They graduate more Black students who go on to lift, not only their families, but entire communities,” said Ed Smith-Lewis, vice president, strategic partnerships and institutional programs, UNCF. He also leads UNCF’s ICB.

“Now, we’re about to show the world just how much Black colleges and universities can teach the rest of higher education to support the success of all their students in institutionalizing educational equity,” Smith-Lewis added.

According to a recent survey, nearly three-fourths of college presidents say that to thrive in an increasingly complex, tech-driven world, they must rethink their business models and campus cultures for greater inclusivity and mobility—and they seek intermediary partners to guide that change.

UNCF was selected for its leadership in bolstering HBCUs as student-success engines, community lifelines and poverty disruptors. In doing so, they are also helping Gates to redefine institutional transformation.

This new phase of Gates investments is designed to accelerate and expand institutional transformation by building on a decade of work and learning with intermediaries and their higher-education partners.

“Our six-year partnership with UNCF could not have been more opportune for Benedict College. They were the force multiplier for realizing our business plan sooner and with greater impact, ensuring our students are not just career-ready at graduation, but career-engaged,” said Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis, Benedict College president and CEO.

Benedict’s participation in the development of HBCUv, the shared online platform for HBCUs, and new collaborations like the South Carolina Cluster is sparking other systemic changes—all to the benefit of its students, most of whom represent first-time college goers from disenfranchised neighborhoods.

“This award recognizes on a national scale the tremendous effort and vision of Dr. Lomax to re-energize UNCF’s founding purpose of championing Black colleges and universities and their higher-education innovations.” said Milton H. Jones, Jr., board chair, UNCF, and founding member of Peachtree Providence Partners.

He added, “Along with The Gates Foundation, other major funders are seeing the wisdom in investing in UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building and its next phase of transformation efforts.”



About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 13% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 24% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.


ICB partners with Black colleges and universities to propel student success, community advancement and the fight for racial-justice equity. Each year, ICB organizes the UNCF UNITE summit, the premier platform and largest gathering of Black higher education.