Facts and Questions
- What does UNCF do?
- UNCF (United Negro College Fund) serves students, communities and the nation by helping students from low-income families go to and through college. UNCF carries out this mission by providing 10,000 scholarships each year by supporting the education of more than 55,000 students at 38 UNCF-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and by serving as one of the country’s most prominent advocates for the importance of education from pre-school through college.
- What is the significance of UNCF’s motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste?”®
- “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”®, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, reaches millions of Americans each year through a national Ad Council campaign that includes the Web, television, radio, newspapers, magazines and billboards. UNCF’s mottos is both a reminder and a call to action: a reminder that in spite of great progress since “A mind is” made its debut, millions of low-income minority students still do not receive the pre-school-through-college education they need and deserve; and a call to action to support UNCF in its mission of helping all Americans to get the education the nation needs them to have.
- What do UNCF scholarship programs accomplish?
- On the most basic level, all UNCF scholarship programs help students from low-income families pay for tuition, text books, room and board and other college expenses. Many programs, like the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, include internships and target specific academic and career opportunities. UNCF’s largest scholarship program, the Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, includes academic and social support, leadership training and mentoring, as well as financial support, and has graduation rates that average 80-90 percent, significantly higher than the national average. And UNCF’s Campaign for Emergency Student Aid provides “just in time” aid that helped thousands of recession impacted students graduate on time.
- Does UNCF only support undergraduate education?
- No. UNCF provides millions of dollars each year to support students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees
- Does UNCF help only African Americans?
- Not at all. UNCF’s member colleges and universities admit students without reference to race or ethnicity. UNCF’s largest scholarship program, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, supports Hispanic American, Asian/Pacific American and Native American students as well as African Americans.
- At this point in our history, why does the U.S. still need an organization and programs targeted at African Americans and other minority students?
- Much progress has been made since UNCF was founded in 1944 and especially since “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”® was created 40 years ago. African Americans now attend almost every college in the country. But African American rates of college attendance and graduation are still much lower than those of other groups—due primarily to the high cost of college compared to lower African American income levels—and are compounded by the fact that many African Americans are not given the pre-college education before college needed for success in college. At a time when a college degree is the basic educational qualification for almost every fast-growing, well-paying job and careers, these students need and deserve help getting a college education. And at a time when, as President Barack Obama has said, “The country that out-educates us today will out-compete us tomorrow,” the nation needs this fast-growing segment of the population to have the education the 21st century economy demands.
- What is the importance of UNCF-member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)?
- Since their founding, private HBCUs like those that are members of UNCF have served the education needs of students not well-served by other institutions. Although African American students now attend almost every American college and university, more students now attend these institutions than when “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”® was created in 1971. In an era of high tuition, UNCF institutions have average tuition levels more than 30 percent lower than those of comparable colleges. And a recent National Science Foundation study found that HBCUs led the top 10 universities producing African American undergraduates who went on to earn doctoral degrees in science and engineering.
- How many students have graduated from UNCF-member colleges since UNCF was founded?
- Over the six decades since its founding, UNCF support has enabled more than 400,000 students to earn their degrees at UNCF colleges and universities.
- Do students have to attend a UNCF-member college to receive financial support?
- No. UNCF provides support to students at approximately 900 colleges across the country—including almost all public and private historically black colleges and universities—and other schools including Harvard, Princeton and MIT.
- Does UNCF provide internships?
- Yes. Hundreds of students receive internship and fellowship opportunities through the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative and the UNCF Corporate Scholars, UNCF Gateway to Leadership and UNCF Social Entrepreneurship programs.
- How can I volunteer to help?
- Local UNCF offices across the country host fund-raising, awareness and other types of events throughout the year. To volunteer to help with an event or fund-raising campaign, please contact your local UNCF office.
- What is UNCF An Evening of Stars®?
- UNCF An Evening of Stars® is an annual TV program, produced by UNCF and broadcast across the country, that features top talent—recent performers have included Fantasia, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson—and information about the work UNCF does, the programs it offers, and the more than 60,000 students whose education it supports every year. Now entering its 33rd year, UNCF An Evening of Stars® started as the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars®.
- The UNCF logo looks different than I remember. What has changed?
- As UNCF has evolved to address the challenges that students face in the 21st century, UNCF's logo has evolved as well. Today, the logo appears in color and features the organization's initials, UNCF, a redesigned torch representing the momentum, acceleration and progress of a forward-moving organization and UNCF’s universally recognized motto, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”®.
Current UNCF Logo
Previous UNCF Logo