Gates Millennium Scholars Program

UNCF- the United Negro College Fund is the administrator of the Gates Millennium Scholar Program. The partnership with UNCF the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the program in established in 1999, as a 1.6 billion dollar initiative funded grant.

For more than seven decades, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste” has remained at the heart of UNCF, enabling them to help more than 430,000 students and counting not just attend college, but thrive, graduate and become leaders.

The approach to do this work is done in three ways: By awarding more than 10,000 students scholarships, worth more than $100 million, each year. By providing financial support to 37 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). And by serving as the nation’s leading advocate for the importance of minority education and community engagement.

This three-pronged approach is powerful: Since our founding in 1944, we’ve helped to more than double the number of minorities attending college. The six-year graduation rate for UNCF African American scholarship recipients is 70 percent. This is 11 percentage points higher than the national average and 31 percentage points higher than the national average for all African Americans.

Program Accomplishments

  • Funding more than 16,000 Gates Millennium Scholars since the inception of the program
  • GMS has awarded over $763,628,869 in scholarships between the 2000-2012 academic years
  • The average award was $12,227 between the 2001-2012 academic years
  • The average first-year undergraduate student retention rate is 97.9% among Gates Scholars; the average second-year rate is 96%
  • The GMS five-year graduation rate is 80.6% and the six-year graduation rate is over 86.3%
  • Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Gates Millennium Scholars transition into graduate school; 14% into a GMS-funded field and 14% into GMS-unfunded fields
  • Gates Millennium Scholars enrolled in over than 1,865 colleges and universities
  • Over 10,315 Gates Millennium Scholars completed a degree since the program's inception
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