Black college students/graduates (252233)
Black college students/graduates Credit: Freddie Allen/AMG/NNPA

As the nation observes Black History Month 2023, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is celebrating and acknowledging the fact that Black History Month is every day because Black Lives Matter every day!

UNCF is continuing to make history by serving as the largest scholarship provider for students of color and supporting the excellence and high achievement of the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their graduates.

This year’s month-long theme “Black Resistance”, designated by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), focuses on the contributions of African Americans and institutions, including HBCUs, to resist the status quo in leading economic, political and social change across the United States.

Formed prior to and after the Civil War, HBCUs were for many years the only opportunity for higher education open to African Americans.  For more than 180 years, they have consistently graduated outstanding Americans of all races, who have made great contributions to the economic, political and social advancement of our nation.

“UNCF is proud to join our nation to uplift Black History Month, and we call for the continued support of HBCUs as the institutions that have played a pivotal role in leading the Black resistance movement in America and providing solutions to the societal ills of this nation,” said Maurice E. Jenkins, Jr., executive vice president, chief development officer, UNCF. “HBCUs have provided and continue providing a safe space for the formation of activists and leaders, artists, business owners and educators. They were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement, and Black Power and social justice movements. They stand as a testament to Black investment and creative thinking in the face of the changing landscape of higher education.”

UNCF co-founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Dr. Carter G. Woodson were the two individuals who shaped the course of American history and were instrumental in the creation of Negro History Week, now known as Black History Month. Bethune, the founder and first president of UNCF-member Bethune-Cookman University, was the first female president of Woodson’s Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, today known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Bethune and Woodson understood how education, whether in elementary, secondary or higher education institutions were the pathways for Black people and communities to resist the narrative that Black people are intellectually inferior.

UNCF’s mission continues the legacy and vision of Bethune and Woodson providing scholarships and other services to students who are from households with incomes less than $46,000, over 70% are Pell grant eligible, meaning they are from households with serious financial need, and nearly 40% are first generation college students.  Yet at HBCUs, these students have an average access rate more than twice that of all institutions nationwide and five times that of Ivy Plus institutions.

There are 101 accredited HBCUs currently operating in 19 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. While they constitute only 3% of higher education institutions in the country, HBCUs educate 10% of all Black college students. The HBCU student population is currently over 75% Black. These institutions account for 19% of degrees earned by Black students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). Additionally, HBCUs account for 80% of Black judges, 50% of Black doctors, and 50% of Black lawyers.

UNCF and HBCUs make Black History every day, which is made possible through loyal donors and partners, who make financial contributions to continue this work. To learn how to donate to help students, who need support to attend and complete college, visit

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