About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is named for the U.S. Supreme Court's first African-American Justice. It was established in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. N. Joyce Payne in cooperation with Miller Brewing Co., Sony Music, the NBA, Reebok and the American Association for State Colleges and Universities. TMCF supports and represents nearly 300,000 students attending its 47 member-schools that include public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), medical schools and law schools. TMCF helps students with a clear intention and the motivation to succeed and acquire a high-quality college education at an affordable cost. TMCF also efficiently connects high performing, world-ready students with top tier employment opportunities—access that students or employers might not have on their own. Through its scholarships and programs, TMCF plays a key role in preparing leaders of tomorrow.
TMCF is the only national organization to provide scholarships, programmatic and capacity building support to the 47 public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and to date has awarded more than $200 million in such assistance to its students and member-schools. TMCF member-schools are a vital source of higher education for all students and more than 80% of all students enrolled in HBCUs attend TMCF member-schools.


Evolution of a Force in Higher Education
The Thurgood Marshall College Fund: 1985–2011

Over the years, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) has championed higher education at public Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). TMCF has blossomed from a small organization providing scholarships to a powerhouse of resources for public HBCUs — raising over $200 million to date for programmatic, capacity building support and scholarships for nearly 300,000 students at our 47 member-schools.

  • Dr. N. Joyce Payne collaborates with James Parks of Miller Brewing Company and Albert Smith, former vice president of institutional advancement at North Carolina A&T on creating a scholarship fund for higher education
  • A planning committee is formed with Charles Wright at Coppin State College and representatives from Miller Brewing Co. 
  • A name is created and Dr. Payne and Noel Hankin christen the organization the National Black Education Fund (NBEF)
  • Launch of first promotion where National Basketball Association (NBA) jackets are offered as a fundraising mechanism
  • December 9th marks the beginning of a new legacy and Justice Thurgood Marshall allows the use of his name
  • Noel Hankin joins Miller Brewing Company and develops the idea for a Miller sponsored educational outreach program
  • Noel Hankin recruits Frazier-Smith Advertising to generate ideas
  • The National Black Education Fund’s name is officially changed to the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund (TMSF)
  • Philip Morris donates first office space at 100 Park Avenue in New York City
  • Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund becomes incorporated
  • TMSF’s first Executive Director, Johnny Parham is brought on staff and Vice President, Material Manufacturing, Miller Brewing Company, Virgis Colbert is appointed head of the Board of Directors


  • Summer test preparation program established on five campuses for graduate and professional school entrance exam


  • Summer test preparation program expands to 10 campuses


  • TMSF begins awarding scholarships to Historically Black Public Law Schools


  • Johnny Parham retires and a new Dwayne Ashley is installed as the new president
  • Ray Allen commits to be national spokesperson


  • First Leadership Institute and President's Summit is held
  • Awards of Excellence regional events are created
  • Receipt of a $636,675 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc.


  • First Development Conference at Indiana University in partnership with the Lilly Endowment, Inc.


  • TMSF surpasses the $50 million mark in total funds raised for public HBCUs and receives it's first federal grant


  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes a $4.9M gift to TMSF to establish The Center for Innovative HBCU School Reform Partnerships to close student academic achievement gaps and increase college readiness, preparation and college-going rates among minority students at secondary schools


  • Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education
  • Publishing of Essence bestseller I'll Find a Way or Make One


  • TMSF receives a three-star rating by Charity Navigator as one of the most efficient and well-run charities in the country. TMSF administrative cost lowered to 4%
  • TMSF graduates its 6,000th scholarship recipient


  • TMSF relocates to 80 Maiden Lane, Suite 2204, NY 10038, to accommodate growth
  • Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund changes its name to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) reflecting an expanded mission
  • TMCF surpasses the $60 million mark in total funds raised for public HBCUs becoming the largest organization benefitting public HBCU students, faculty and staff
  • TMCF launches new technology to provide HBCU Talent Sourcing for recruiting top students


  • TMCF becomes a member of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat
  • Educational Career Development DVD series launches


  • TMCF and GALLUP launch the Pathways Program designed to support retention and college success
  • The Gates/Marshall Redesign Project ends its 5-year pilot program supporting six newly opened or redesigned high schools in Maryland, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas over the course of five years. The results of the Pilot reports at the end of 2008 showed improved attendance levels and increased test scores, graduation rates, and college acceptances.
  • Dress for Success, an installment of the Educational Career Development DVD series, which provides an illustrated introduction on the subject of proper dressing attire in preparation for a job interview was the winner of the Bronze Telly Award
  • TMCF Surpasses the $100 million mark in funds raised for public HBCUs
  • Microsoft contributes a $6 Million technology grant to TMCF


  • Introduction of the Teacher Quality and Retention Program (TQRP) and immersion of 153 pre-service and newly minted teachers in four markets on the latest theories, techniques and practices associated with exemplary K-12 teaching
  • International Project created to address the need to prepare the next generation of leaders and STEM professionals in the United States to compete in the global economy. A trip to South Africa was the first of three comprehensive fact-finding trips to other countries


  • President and CEO Dwayne Ashley retires and the second President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. takes office
  • Programs division is split to create Talent Acquisition division whose main role is member-school and student relations and to create a pipeline for employers to highly qualified member-school students and alumni
  • Special delegation traveled to China for the second fact-finding mission of the International Project
  • TMCF hosts first annual Awards of Excellence Miami
  • TMCF partners with the WNBA and Bacardi USA to create the Inspiring Woman Gold Standard Scholarship Award
  • TMCF and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund partner with Bacardi USA and the NBA for the inaugural Gold Standard Scholarship Program


  • Special delegation traveled to Malaysia and Singapore for the final fact-finding mission of the International Project
  • TMCF staff and representatives from 11 member-schools created the International Collaboration Group (ICG) to work in concert to apply for federal international grants
  • TMCF grant disbursements top the $1M mark
  • Microsoft donates $8M software grant to TMCF
  • TMCF hosts first annual Awards of Excellence In Chicago and Los Angeles
  • The organization's logo is revised and a new slogan is created: WHERE EDUCATION PAYS OFF
  • United Nations Secretary-General receives the inaugural International Humanitarian of the Year Award at 24th Anniversary Awards Dinner
  • TMCF creates a new partnership with the Humpty Dumpty Institute
  • Altria donates $1M to support the Teacher Quality & Retention Program