Established in 1999 with the goal of developing the next generation of America’s leaders, UNCF’s Gates Millennium Scholars Program is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. To date, over 13,000 students have received GMS scholarships, attending more than 1,500 schools, including Ivy League colleges, flagship state universities and UNCF member historically black colleges (HBCUs).
In addition to financial assistance, Gates Millennium Scholars receive academic support, mentoring and leadership training. As a result, recipients have an average five-year graduation rate of almost 80 percent, 45 percent higher than the six-year rate for all college students.
“The 20,000 young men and women who will attend college as Gates Millennium Scholars will make a major contribution to helping the United States fulfill President Obama’s goal of regaining for America world leadership in the proportion of citizens with college degrees,” said Michael L. Lomax, Ph. D., UNCF President and CEO. “The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is an investment in both the futures of these students and the country’s economic and social strength and competitiveness.”
UNCF’s management of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is a partnership with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGCS), the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) to serve Gates Millennium Scholars in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Of all the ways to increase opportunities for lower-income youth, education is the most important,” said Margaret Daniels Tyler, Senior Program Officer at the Gates Foundation. “By supporting a diverse cadre of students to earn their degrees, we can help develop the next generation of leaders in communities across the country. That is what the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is all about.”