Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Association: Building and Leaving Legacy!

How We Got Here

In 1999, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program a $1.6 billion grant to promote academic excellence and provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need. In one decade, thousands of GMS recipients completed undergraduate and graduate education, and there emerged a desire to connect this body. Thus, with support from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program Staff, The GMS Alumni Association (GMSAA) was established in 2009.

In 2016, GMS selected it’s final cohort of scholarship recipient, with an estimate of sun-setting the program after these scholars completed their programs (2028-2029). This led to conversations on the future of GMSAA. In effort to gather alumni input for the future of the alumni association, as well as community priorities, GMSAA conducted a nationwide survey in early 2017. Out of the 500 alumni, they responded that they would like an organization that provides professional development, incorporates civic engagement and advocacy, and promotes economic empowerment. This survey also demonstrated a strong interest from GMS Alumni to continue to build and connect our community.

GMSAA was designed to make certain that alumni across the country are connected through activities led by selected alumni leaders. Through an array of engagement activity, including regional alumni gatherings, social media interactions, and webinars with content important to our community, the association seeks to ensure that the GMS Alumni community remains strong, connected, and supportive of fostering leaders in action across the nation. The GMS Alumni Advisory Council is represented nation-wide by an Executive Committee and subcommittees on alumni engagement, fundraising, and new org development. The Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Advisory Council is comprised of alumni from every major geographical location across the United States.

With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GMS Program Staff, GMSAA embarked on creating this future that our alumni envisioned. GMSAA established a Steering Committee and will work hand-hand to establish the foundations to make the new organization successful. The GMS program will sunset in 2029 with the completion of funding of the final cohort (2016). What does this mean for Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni and the legacy of the program?

Where Are We Now:

In March 2019, Gates Millennium Scholars Alumni Advisory Council, Steering Committee, and GMS Program Staff convened in Washington, D.C., to discuss the framework for the future organization. The Steering Committee shared a two-year roadmap on how we’ll establish a nonprofit (501c3) organization. Together, we aligned on a Mission, Vision, and Purpose for the new organization, as well as three guiding pillars:

    • Professional and Personal Development
    • Civic Engagement and Advocacy
    • Economic Empowerment




The Steering Committee is currently working to establish an independent organization with 501c3 status and will continue to partner with GMSAA/GMS Program Staff on the transition. In late 2020 to early 2021, GMSAA and the Steering Committee will merge into one, and the new organization will standing.


Who’s involved and why?

The GMSAA Advisory Council and Steering Committee are involved in establishing the new entity and communicating updates with both GMSAA and GMS program staff. Members of the GMSAA Advisory Council were elected by the outgoing council, and members of the steering committee were appointed by outgoing GMSAA Advisory Council and UNCF.

How can I participate?

At this time we are identifying and welcoming GMS Alumni to participate in one of three GMSAA sub-committees: (i) Fundraising, (ii) Alumni Engagement, including Social & Service and Professional Development, and (iii) New Org. Development. More information on roles and responsibilities will be shared on social media and alumni communication.

Where can I access more information?

Please contact the GMSAA Advisory Council at for more information. To reach the GMS Program Staff, please contact

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the new organization development and sustainability by clicking here!