Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Diversity Initiatives
The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) is one of the Foundation’s premier programs and the centerpiece of the Foundation’s long-term effort to help remedy the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education. MMUF aims to create a legacy of qualified and gifted scholars who will provide opportunities for all students to experience and learn from the perspectives of diverse faculty members. Established in 1988, MMUF works to achieve its mission by identifying and supporting students of great promise and helping them to become scholars of the highest distinction. The name of the program honors Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, the noted African-American educator, statesman, minister, and former president of Morehouse College. Dr. Mays was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., both of whom exemplify the character, integrity, and purposes of the Program’s mission and goals.
The fundamental objectives of MMUF are to reduce, over time, the serious underrepresentation on faculties of individuals from minority groups, as well as to address the consequences of these racial disparities for the educational system itself and for the larger society that it serves. These goals can be achieved both by increasing the number of students from underrepresented minority groups who pursue PhDs and by supporting the pursuit of PhDs by students who may not come from underrepresented minority groups but have demonstrated a commitment to the goals of MMUF. The MMUF program is designed to encourage fellows to enter PhD programs that prepare students for professorial careers; it is not intended to support students who intend to go to medical school, law school, or other professional schools.
The MMUF program is administered by approximately one hundred campus coordinators at 42 institutions, and a consortium of 39 historically black colleges and universities within the membership of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Five rising juniors are chosen on each campus every year, and 25 for the UNCF consortium schools.
As of September 2011 the MMUF program has had over 3,733 participating students; over 405 have earned their PhD with an additional 645 PhDs in progress; the number of participants earning PhDs each year continues to increase.
The Foundation is not currently accepting new institutions into the MMUF program. For more information, please visit http://www.mmuf.org.
The Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Program provides multi-year grants to private, four-year HBCUs whose missions are to provide an undergraduate liberal arts education. Currently, the Foundation works with 16 HBCUs, The Robert W. Woodruff Library, UNCF, and the Southern Education Foundation, Inc.
In general, grants awarded in this program are aimed at (1) supporting HBCU presidents as they advance specific areas of their strategic plans (Institution Building Program), (2) providing additional resources and professional development opportunities for HBCU librarians (HBCU Libraries), and (3) assisting HBCU institutions and faculty members as they refresh curricular offerings (Curricular Development).
Additional grantmaking activities include support for programs and initiatives that address issues of diversity in higher education, complementing and extending the work of the MMUF and HBCU programs. The Foundation’s diversity initiatives grantees include the American Indian College Fund, the Organization for Tropical Studies, the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers, and various individual colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.
Please direct initial inquiries by email to:
MMUF Program & Diversity Initiatives: Elizabeth Foley,
HBCU Program: Amy Erwin,
Before writing, please review the Foundation’s general requirements for grant proposals in the Grant Inquiries section of this Web site.