UNCF and Ad Council join Paramount Pictures to produce new PSA campaign, featuring footage from the soon-to-be-released film SELMA, reminding Americans that investing in young people can change the world

The television PSA features new music from artists Common and John Legend

NEW YORK, Dec. 4, 2014 — (PRNewswire) — UNCF and the Ad Council are joining Paramount Pictures to launch a series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring footage from the upcoming film SELMA and original music written for the film by Common and John Legend. The :30 television spot, created pro bono by Paramount Pictures, will air on television stations in donated media around the country starting this week.

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The PSAs are an extension of UNCF and Ad Council's Better Futures campaign which aims to help African American students get to and through college by demonstrating how an investment in young people is an investment in all our futures. The campaign is a focused effort to remind Americans that their investments in education can change the life of a well-deserving student, and more importantly, the lives of generations to come.

The new PSAs feature the true story of how revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted a change that forever altered history, as chronicled in upcoming movie SELMA directed by Ava DuVernay. During this historic three-month period in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.  The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. 

"We are honored to feature footage from SELMA and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s powerful story in our new PSAs," said Michael L. Lomax, Ph.D., president and CEO of UNCF. "Dr. King graduated from Morehouse College, a UNCF-member school, and went on to rally enough support to achieve his dream and make a lasting difference in the lives of millions. By supporting students through UNCF, we continue that legacy by building a pipeline of graduates that will become our next generation of leaders."

Launched in 2013, the Better Futures campaign transformed the idea of a donation to the powerful idea of an investment in the future. To convey that idea, it evolved one of the most iconic brand taglines 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 PSAs encourage audiences to invest in students through UNCF to close the African American college completion gap and in turn improve our country as a whole.

"We're incredibly proud of our partnership with UNCF on this public service campaign which is one of the longest and most successful in our nation's history," said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "These new PSAs with Paramount Pictures are a wonderful extension of our efforts to help Americans continue to see the extraordinary benefits of supporting UNCF and, in doing so, supporting students who are the future of our country."

According to UNCF, only 28 percent of African Americans who graduate from high school go on to earn a bachelor's degree. The limiting factor is often not a lack of interest but a lack of financial assistance.  UNCF scholarships play a critical role in helping more than 60,000 students attend and graduate from college each year. Furthermore, these investments last a lifetime – 94 percent of UNCF scholarship recipients return for their sophomore year and 70 percent graduate within six years. UNCF students who finish college earn more, enjoy better health and are more likely to contribute to their communities.

"This is an amazing opportunity for us to be able to share the images from this extraordinary film through the Ad Council campaign supporting UNCF," commented LeeAnne Stables, Executive Vice President of Marketing Partnerships at Paramount Pictures. "We hope that the life of Dr. King depicted in the film will serve as an inspiration and reminder of the value of investing time and passion in an important cause such as UNCF."

The PSAs encourage audiences to visit www.uncf.org/invest where they can see the impact of their investment, learn more about UNCF's work and make an investment in our future. Visitors to the microsite can also interact with the "social investment calculator" which shows them what their donation amounts to in terms of impact. For example, with every $10 invested in UNCF, the social return and impact on earnings, crime, poverty and health savings are $102.

During the 41 years of its PSA campaign messaging, UNCF has had a profoundly positive impact on the lives of millions of minority students, helping to more than double the number of minorities, ages 18 to 24, attending college in the U.S. from 2 million in 1980 to 4.3 million in 2000. Annually, UNCF awards more than $100 million in scholarships, to more than 10,000 students at over 900 schools across the country.

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. In addition to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., other prominent UNCF alumni include 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 President Dr. Ruth Simmons (first African American president of an Ivy League school).

Per the Ad Council's model, all of the ads will air in advertising space and time donated by the media. Since the campaign's inception, media outlets have donated nearly $1 billion in donated time and space for the campaign.

SELMA, from director Ava DuVernay and starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is in theaters in limited release on December 25 and nationwide on January 9. SELMA chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.  The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.  Director Ava DuVernay's SELMA tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. Starring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey as "Annie Lee Cooper."

The film is produced by Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. Written by Paul Webb. Directed by Ava DuVernay .

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