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UNCF channels Wall Street in new ad campaign

UNCF channels Wall Street in new ad campaign

UNCF channels Wall Street and Silicon Valley in new ad campaign

by Mike Green

You’ve heard the famous UNCF slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” But you may not have heard the new ad campaign, which borrows terminology that has become synonymous with Silicon Valley and Wall Street: “investment” and “dividend.”

I like the new approach. But what do you think? (SEE VIDEO BELOW)

The UNCF is the first of the legacy Civil Rights and Social Justice organizations to build a national campaign around the vernacular common to the 21st century knowledge-based, tech-driven, globally competitive innovation economy landscape. This new campaign encourages us to view black students through the lens of the value they can create and accelerate, if only we would invest in their future.


UNCF puts a face, a voice and a personality to these investments. This technique is similar to the passion-filled pitches by tech entrepreneurs to prospective angel and venture capital investors across Silicon Valley every day of every week. Last year, angels invested more than $23 billion in startup companies. Venture capitalists added another $27 billion.

Yes, you read that correctly, in just 12 months at least $50 billion was invested in more than 67,000 companies in 2012. That investment threshold may be surpassed by the activity occurring this year.


But how much of that goes toward black innovators?

How much is Black America investing in its black youth? What part of that $50 billion do we represent, either on the investor side or the recipient side?

UNCF may not have intentionally driven home the point made by the Center for Venture Research’s annual report on angel investing, but it nailed it anyway. The report for 2012 revealed that while minority-owned firms are severely under-represented in the angel investment target landscape of technology fields, when they do receive investments, the average yield is 18%, which is in line with market rates … for the fifth straight year!

UNCF wants America to view college-bound black youth as the innovators of today whose future depends upon you. And me.


Wall Street has its ticker that keeps investors apprised up to the minute of how well their stock is doing. A good stock will yield dividends. And UNCF’s ad campaign encourages us to view our black youth as good stock. They will yield future dividends.

But only if we invest in their future. In like manner to the stock market, our students need investment. And when we invest, we empower them to be the best they can be and perform well. That performance yields positive dividends to society.


The message is on point. We live in an innovation economy built upon investments, creative disruptions, technology innovations, critical thinking, problem-solving, more efficient ways of doing old things and creative new products and services that catalyze new behaviors in the marketplace. Indeed, we need more innovators. We need more tech-driven entrepreneurs. We need more qualified job seekers and most of all, more risk astute job producers.

We only get those things when America’s investor class puts its money to work to help the nation’s innovator class. UNCF taps into the investor in us all and asks us to look into the faces of America’s black youth and see their future. And invest in their potential to realize their dreams.

I like the approach. Bravo, UNCF.

So, what;s your critique of UNCF’s the new marketing approach? Does it make you want to invest?

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