The United Negro College Fund, or UNCF, is an American philanthropic organization that funds scholarships for black students and general scholarship funds for 37 private historically black colleges and universities. UNCF was incorporated on April 25, 1944 by Frederick D. Patterson (then president of what is now Tuskegee University), Mary McLeod Bethune, and others. UNCF is headquartered at 1805 7th Street, NW in Washington, D.C. In 2005, UNCF supported approximately 65,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities with approximately $113 million in grants and scholarships. About 60% of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and 62% have annual family incomes of less than $25,000. UNCF also administers over 450 named scholarships.
UNCFs president and chief executive officer is Michael Lomax. Past presidents of the UNCF included William H. Gray and Vernon Jordan.
Though founded to address funding inequities in education resources for African Americans, UNCF-administered scholarships are open to all ethnicities; the great majority of recipients are still African-American. It provides scholarships to students attending its member colleges as well as to those going elsewhere.
Graduates of UNCF member institutions and scholarships have included many blacks in the fields of business, politics, health care and the arts. Some prominent UNCF alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and leader in the Civil Rights Movement; Alexis Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; noted movie director Spike Lee; actor Samuel L. Jackson; General Chappie James, the U.S. Air Force’s first black four-star general; and Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General and director of the Centers for Disease Control.
In 1944 William J. Trent, a long time activist for education for blacks, joined with Tuskegee Institute President Frederick D. Patterson and Mary McLeod Bethune to found the UNCF, a nonprofit that united college presidents to raise money collectively