In 1943, Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, president of what is now Tuskegee University, urged his fellow black college presidents to raise money collectively through an "appeal to the national conscience." The next year, on April 25, 1944, Dr. Patterson, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and others incorporated the United Negro College Fund with 27 member colleges. Early supporters of the UNCF included President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. That first effort raised $760,000, a sum that would be worth approximately $8.6 million today.
Over the years, the idea and mission of UNCF have attracted hundreds of thousands, who through their gifts and their goodwill have helped us to keep our students focused on achieving their college degrees. Numbered among our friends was Sen. John F. Kennedy, who later became president of the United States. In 1959, he donated the proceeds from his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, to UNCF.
In 1972, Forest Long, an executive at Young and Rubicam, the renowned ad agency, created the UNCF tagline "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." He explained that it represented a "plea to everybody to reject the prejudices of the past and consider the inner person." The tagline has become one of the most recognized slogans in advertising history.
UNCF plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college and get the education they want and deserve. To close the educational attainment gap between African Americans and the majority population, UNCF helps promising students attend college and graduate by:
• Providing operating funds for its 39 member colleges, all of them small, liberal arts institutions, making it possible for them to offer their students 21st century academic programs while keeping their tuitions to less than half the average of other private colleges;
• Administering 400 scholarship and internship programs, so that even students from low- and moderate-income families can afford college tuition, books and room and board;
• Serving as a national advocate for the importance minority higher education by representing the public policy interests of its students and member collegesmore » « less