UNCF was founded in 1944 to safeguard, through joint fundraising, the primary means for most Black citizens to attain a higher education at the time. Today, we call these institutions Historically Black Colleges and Universities or HBCUs.

HBCUs are creators of best practices, pedagogy and systems that support Black student success and their social mobility.
HBCUs overproduce in a higher education system that continues to marginalize their institutions, students and communities.
HBCUs leverage and share their hard-won expertise so that all Black students—indeed all students everywhere—benefit.
“It was an HBCU that took a chance on me. It was an HBCU that gave me infinite amounts of courage. And it is this courage that allowed me to be where I am today.”

THE OUTSIZED IMPACT OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

Continually challenged by structural and systemic inequities, HBCUs still outperform their better-resourced counterparts.

[HBCUs must] remain the beacons that
they’ve been for more than a century and a half:

Crucibles of learning where students discover their full potential and forge the character required to realize it;

Catalysts of change where young people put their hands on the arc of history and move this nation closer to the ideals of its founding; and the

Cradles of opportunity where each generation inherits the American Dream—and keeps it alive for the next.

President Barack Obama
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IF NOT FOR BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES…

Juneteenth would be just another day.

On June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Union troops freed Black men and women still enslaved in Galveston, Texas.

More than 150 years later, Wiley College alum Opal Lee finally won her battle to get this day recognized as a national holiday. The 93-year-old activist stood beside President Biden as he signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

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IF NOT FOR BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES…

American history would be thoroughly whitewashed.

W. E. B. DuBois first called out “white privilege” in the 1930s, referring to it as the “psychological wage” that allowed poor whites to feel superior to poor Blacks.

What this Fisk University graduate dared expose nearly a hundred years ago is still being fought today, stoking yet another wave of backlash.

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IF NOT FOR BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES…

Black arts wouldn’t be a global phenomenon.

The Harlem Renaissance, Spike Lee Joints, The Black Panther and countless more. The brilliant heights of HBCU grads cannot be contained within any structure, industry or national boundary.

Creatives like Sean “Diddy” Combs, Oprah Winfrey and Will Packer embellished their art forms at an HBCU, giving life-proof meaning to the words of Toni Morrison, a Howard University alum: “Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

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IF NOT FOR BLACK COLLEGES & UNIVERSITIES…

Black culture and traditions would not march on.

Across music, fine arts, visual arts, the fashion industry, television and film, the cultural influence of HBCU graduates has been and remains unparalleled.

Even the legacy of HBCU marching bands is breaking through in popular culture, transforming what was just halftime entertainment to a totally new art form on center stage. #BeyGood

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