Research Outline

UNCF's Strategic Direction


To understand United Negro College Fund's strategic direction and how best to aid students of color in higher education.

Early Findings

  • UNCF generally operates a three-prong approach in its promotion of education for students of color: direct scholarships to students, financial support for HBCUs and advocacy.
  • Larry Griffith specifically focuses on the organization's programs and student services.
  • Examining UNCF's news page and press releases from the past few months does not reveal any fundamental declaration in changing strategies for the student services arm of the UNCF.
  • HR 2740, which was promoted by UNCF, increased federal funding provisions for the "neediest students".
  • Broadening our search to wider press coverage relating to Mr. Griffith and the UNCF revealed that the UNCF generally depends upon donors and fundraising to fund its scholarships. This does not appear to have changed in recent years, as we found news stories from both this month and several years communicating the same strategy. UNCF's general "go forward" strategy, as announced at their 75th anniversary celebration earlier this year, surrounds continuing their promotion of HBCUs and, " prioritizing the sustainability and transformation of the UNCF network of powerful HBCUs so that we can continue to produce the next generation of leaders."
  • Their concrete goals, as stated by the president, are: "75 years from now UNCF seeks to have (1) doubled the number of students we have been able to get to and through college; (2) created generations of new leaders; and (3) secured a UNCF legislative and appropriations agenda that ensures all African American students will have equal education access."
  • The UNCF recently has been focusing heavily on funding STEM programs/students.
  • Students receiving UNCF funds have a 9-point higher graduation rate (70%) than the national average. The African-American national average is only 38%.
  • 75% of UNCF's students come from households with incomes low enough to qualify for a Pell Grant, compared to 39% of all students. Additionally, "HBCU students borrow nearly twice as much in federal loans as their non-HBCU peers: $26,266 vs. $14,881."
  • Homelessness affects around 18% of two-year college attendees and 14% of four-year college attendees, nationally. Housing insecurity is estimated to affect up to 60% and 48%, respectively.
  • According to the same survey, the combination of food and housing insecurity affects 39% of two-year college students and 30% of four-year college attendees.
  • Financial aid application figures show 68,000 students nationwide declare themselves homeless.
  • A research paper found that students of color experience much higher food insecurity than the national averages. 57% of students of color reported food insecurity, compared to 40% non-Hispanic white students.
  • College completion rates vary by race, and Black students have the lowest among all ethnicities.
  • UNCF has not released any data specifically on how many of their scholarship awardees experience food or housing insecurity. The main statistics available are on Black college students in general.