in 1944, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) has grown to
become one of the nation's best-known charitable organizations.
Funds contributed to the UNCF make it possible for 43 UNCF
member colleges and universities to keep tuitions low and
the dream of an education within every student's reach. In
1972, the UNCF partnered with the Ad Council to launch a public
service advertising campaign encouraging Americans to support
the fund. The campaign slogan, "A Mind is a Terrible
Thing To Waste," has remained unchanged for more than
three decades and has become part of the American vernacular.
At the time of the campaign launch, graduates
from UNCF member schools represented more than half of all
black elected officials in the United States, 75% of the country's
black Ph.D's, and 85% of the country's black doctors. In addition,
90% percent of these graduates were the first in their families
to receive a degree and 70% percent came from families with
a gross income level of $5,000 or less. Though the nation
was in the midst of a business recession, contributions to
the UNCF doubled in the first five years of the campaign.
Some public service advertisements (PSAs) reminded
the public that for every student UNCF sends to college there
is another equally deserving student who cannot attend because
of lack of funds. Other PSAs made use of the business term
"return on investment" and noted that an investment
in the UNCF yields a successful college graduate.
Although UNCF member schools represented fewer
than 4% of United States colleges in 1984, they enrolled an
impressive 35% of all blacks attending 4-year colleges. During
that same time, contributions to the UNCF continued to grow,
with a 250% increase recorded between 1978 and 1989.
To date, the campaign has helped to raise more
than $1.9 billion and has helped to graduate more than 300,000
minority students from 43 UNCF member colleges and universities.
Through the decades, many celebrities have lent their talent
to UNCF PSAs, including Maya Angelou, Leontyne Price, Samuel
L. Jackson, then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell and his
wife Alma, Michael Jordan, and Spike Lee.
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