Outreach Toolkit: About UNCF

Since its founding in 1944, UNCF has raised more than $4.7 billion to help more than 445,000 students receive college degrees at UNCF-member institutions and with UNCF scholarships.

UNCF plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college and get the education they need and that the nation needs them to have by:

  • Awarding 10,000 scholarships and internships under 400 programs for students from low- and moderate-income families to attend more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the country
  • Providing financial support for its 37 member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) for scholarships and capacity building
  • Advocating nationally for the importance of education and college readiness through commentary in national media
  • Advocating locally at events across the country such as Governor’s and Mayor’s Luncheons, Walk for Education events and Mayor’s Masked Balls

UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute issues studies that improve understanding of the issues that face minority education and points the way to solutions.

UNCF’s Institute for Capacity Building, a unique institutional improvement initiative, helps member colleges and universities become stronger and more self-sustaining in areas that can make the difference between success and struggle such as curriculum and faculty enhancement, student recruitment and retention and fundraising.


Member HBCUs educate more than 55,000 students each year at tuitions averaging 30% less than those charged by comparable institutions. Research shows that HBCUs out-perform many larger and better-funded schools at graduating low-income students—the students the country most needs to have college degrees.

UNCF Scholarship Programs increase the likelihood that students will graduate. African American recipients of UNCF scholarships have a 70% six-year graduation rate, 10 percentage points higher than the national average, and 30% higher than the average for all African Americans. A $5,000 UNCF scholarship increases by seven percent the likelihood that its recipient will graduate from college. The low-income minority recipients of Gates Millennium Scholarships, a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, have average graduation rates of 90%.

UNCF’s advocacy has changed the way the nation thinks about education and race. When UNCF’s iconic motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”®, debuted more than 45 years ago, the idea that African Americans should go to college was not widely accepted. Today, the UNCF motto is almost universally known and almost every college has black students. The latest iteration of UNCF’s brand frames support for minority education as investment in better futures for students and all of us: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.”