The Gates Millennium Scholars Program has announced this year's cohort of one thousand freshman scholars, each of whom will use the good-through-graduation award to cover the costs of attending the college or university of his or her choice.
This year's Gates scholars hail from forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, the Marshall Islands, and four U.S. territories. In addition to financial assistance, each will receive academic, social, and financial support, as well as mentoring and leadership training. On average, 90 percent of Gates Millennium Scholars graduate within six years — a rate that is 45 percent higher than the national graduation rate for all college students and comparable to the rate for students from high-income families.
Established in 1999 to help develop the next generation of America's leaders, the $1.6 billion program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by the United Negro College Fund in partnership with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. To date, more than fifteen thousand students have received scholarships to more than fifteen hundred schools through the program, including Ivy League schools, flagship state universities, and historically black colleges and universities.
"For the 20,000 young men and women who will attend college as Gates Millennium Scholars, the financial support, leadership training, mentoring, and academic and social support they receive will enable them to become the next generation of college graduates and leaders the U.S. needs to remain competitive in the global economy," said Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. "We are grateful for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's support of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, because it is not only an investment in the futures of these students, but also in the country's economic and social strength and competitiveness."