Press Release

UNCF and Ad Council Launch Better Futures Campaign – A New Strategy to Close the African American College Completion Gap

Features the Evolution of the UNCF’s Historic Slogan from “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste” to “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste but a Wonderful Thing to Invest In”

The UNCF in partnership with the Ad Council, announced today the launch of Better Futures, a national multimedia public service effort that will build on their 41-year old campaign to help African American students get to and through college.

Created pro bono by Y&R, new Better Futures PSAs transform the idea of donating to a cause to a more powerful idea of investing in the future, including the introduction of a stock for social change, where people can see the direct social return of their investment. Economists were consulted for the campaign and developed an algorithm to show the social return of donating just $10 to UNCF, including the impact on earnings, crime savings and health savings. The campaign includes new television, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs featuring students who have personally benefited from UNCF sharing their poignant stories of success.

Better Futures builds on an iconic campaign first launched in 1972 that has helped over 300,000 students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. In order to make it possible for even more African American kids to attend and graduate from college, Better Futures will make clear the high rate of a return a donor generates from an investment in the UNCF scholarship program. It evolves one of the most iconic brand tag lines in history from “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste” to “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, But A Wonderful Thing To Invest In.”

“For 41 years, the ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste’® campaign has been the engine that has helped more than 300,000 students earn college degrees. This new iteration represents a new kind of philanthropy, one that ddoesn'turge a gift, but an investment in our country's young people,” said Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO,UNCF. “Our new PSAs use real stories from real UNCF students to show how that investment will pay dividends for all our futures.”

The campaign launches at a time when a college degree is now what a high school diploma was to previous generations – the minimum entry-level requirement for almost every well-paying career. According to UNCF, the high cost of college and the lack of financial assistance are the major reasons that students don’t enter or complete college. UNCF plays a critical role in enabling more than 60,000 students each year to attend college and get the education they need, and the nation needs them to have.

A UNCF scholarship contribution is a direct investment in America’s future through its children. UNCF African American scholarship recipients have a 60 percent five-year graduation rate, five percentage points higher than the national average and 25% higher than the average for all African Americans. For every $5000 that UNCF provides to an African American freshman through a scholarship, their likelihood of graduating increases eight percent.

During the forty-one years of its PSA campaign messaging, UNCF has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives of millions of minority students, helping more than double the number of minorities, ages 18-24, attending college in the U.S. from 2 million in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2000.

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with UNCF and Y&R on this campaign which is one of the longest and most successful in our nation’s history,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Better Futures will help Americans continue to see the extraordinary benefits of supporting UNCF and, in doing so, supporting students who are the future of our country.”

The Ad Council will distribute the new PSAs to media outlets nationwide this week. The campaign directs audiences to, where audiences can see the impact of their investment, learn more about UNCF’s work and make a donation. At the newly designed microsite, visitors can view the PSAs featuring students who have benefited from UNCF and interact with the “social investment calculator” where they can see what their donation amounts to in terms of impact. The site’s new content is also shareable via Facebook and Twitter.

We have a long deep relationship with the UNCF, one that has helped define who we are as an agency,” said David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R. “There have been many historic moments in the life of our “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing to Waste” campaign, mirroring societal changes. This new work marks a real substantive shift, from the time-honored idea of donating to a cause to what we believe is a more powerful idea of investing in the future. The future of America is all of our responsibility and if we invest, we will reap the returns — creating a UNCF stock brings that to life,” added Sable.

“We believe the young people’s stories shown in this campaign will not only raise money, but inspire others to chart their own course to college and a Better Future while building a pipeline of graduates that will become our next generation of leaders,” said Dr. Lomax of UNCF.

Graduates of UNCF institutions have made lasting contributions to the United States by building successful careers in the fields of business, politics, health care and the arts, to name a few. Some prominent UNCF alumni include: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., director Spike Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, General Chappie James (the U.S. Air Force’s first African American four-star general), Alexis Herman, (Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration), Alice Walker, (author) Leontyne Price (opera singer), and Brown University past president Dr. Ruth Simmons (first African American president of an Ivy League school).

As the nation’s oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization, the United Negro College Fund’s mission is to provide financial support to its 39 member institutions and increase minority degree attainment by reducing financial barriers to college. UNCF institutions and other historically black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 25 percent of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, leadership training, internship and fellowship programs, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 65,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities across the country.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has affected, and continues to affect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or view our PSAs on YouTube.

Y&R is one of the leading global marketing communications companies. It is made up of the iconic Y&R Advertising agency; VML, one of the most highly regarded and fastest-growing digital agencies in the world, and iconmobile, one of the premier mobile marketing companies.

Y&R’s founder, Raymond Rubicam, believed that the company’s mission was to Resist the Usual on behalf of our clients. Today, that is kept alive by melding top-flight creativity with innovation to create new consumer experiences.

Y&R’s largest agency, Y&R Advertising, has 186 offices in 90 countries around the world, with clients that include, Campbell’s Soup Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Virgin Atlantic, Xerox, Revlon, GAP, Land Rover, and Telefonica, among many others.


Press Contact:

Ellyn Fisher
Ad Council
[email protected]

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