In the immortal words of the greatest tagline ever written: A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE.


If you think that any black child in America who has the grades can afford college, or get sufficient scholarship money, you need an education.  Last year, 220,000 students of all colors had to forgo a college education because they simply did not have the money – and a disproportionate number of those were minority students.

President & CEO Michael Lomax with students

The United Negro College Fund is the oldest, largest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization. It provides operating and program funds to 39 historically black colleges and universities, and scholarships and internships for more than 100,00 students at 900 different institutions. Over its 65 years, UNCF has raised more than $3 billion to help over 350,000 students attend and graduate college. These are 350,000 black kids who will go on to become surgeons, technology leaders, investment bankers, teachers and professionals who contribute greatly to society.

But the battle is far from over. Tuition has gone up 50% since 1990, while wages have not. And as any of us with 529 savings plan are painfully aware, college savings accounts have been pole-axed by the recession. And yet, one unassailable fact remains: a person with a college degree will earn a million dollars more in his or her lifetime than a high school graduate. Clearly, investing in higher education is an investment in our own economic future.

In 1959, John F. Kennedy donated the profits from his book Profiles in Courage to the United Negro College Fund. Let’s do something smart and courageous today, and invest in the brains of our young people. So they can grow up and repair all the damage we’ve done. Or become the next Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was also the product of a historically black college .

If you’d like to read more in depth about the UNCF, read  Marybeth Gasman’s excellent book:Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund

UNCF is a Four Star Charity Navigator organization.