Calvin & Wilhelmina Rolark, Founders of UBF
The concept of the United Black Fund, Inc (UBF) was born from a need that became readily apparent in the 1960s. At that time, a number of Black-oriented, D.C. based non-profit organizations were either denied funds or received a disproportionate share of them from the United Givers Fund (UGF) and the Health & Welfare Council. Dr. Calvin W. Rolark Sr., a publisher and prominent leader in the Black community, conducted a study in Washington, D.C., which confirmed UGF's discriminatory policies and practices. The United Black Fund developed in 1969 as a result.
Rolark was joined in his efforts by Reverend Douglas Moore, head of the Black United Front (BUF), who charged UGF with employing discriminatory fund allocation policies to agencies within black communities and having very few blacks, if any, involved in policy making decisions. Thus, the momentum was on Wilhelmina J. Rolark, a prominent attorney. She fought City and Federal officials to secure tax-exempt status for the fledgling organization. Volunteers from Howard University were recruited for administrative duties and the stage was set for UBF's first fundraising campaign.
In 1971, UBF continued in its struggle to establish itself as an independent fundraising organization. The US Civil Service Commission (now known as the Office of Personnel Management) tried to block UBF's efforts to secure rights to solicit Federal employees through payroll deduction via the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).
In 1972, UBF continued its litigation with the Civil Service Commission. However, after months of negotiations, UBF had a major breakthrough when IBM granted UBF payroll deductions from its employees. As a result, the third campaign brought in $50,000 a large increase since 1971. At this time, 11 agencies had been established under UBF's umbrella.
In 1973, UBF reached a major milestone. In June, UGF reported a deficit of $1,000,000 and due to UBF's continued pressure, UGF decided to enter into a fundraising partnership with UBF. The first joint UBF-UGF campaign was a success. That year, UBF granted allocations to 17 member agencies. UBF's struggle with the Civil Service Commission was resolved when it became the first Black fundraising organization in the country to secure rights to solicit Federal employees for payroll deductions.
In 1974, The United Givers Fund and the Health and Welfare Council merged to form the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA). The United Way and the United Black Fund entered into a partnership fundraising campaign with both agencies sharing equal status. The joint venture was successful as 120 agencies received allocations from the campaign. Each year, UBF and UWNCA have a partnership campaign. The two agencies also serve as co-administrators of the District of Columbia Government Employees One Fund Drive (also known as the DC One Fund). This service is provided free of charge to the DC government.
Today, The United Black Fund continues operating as a non-profit, 501c3 organization that raises funds for financing organizations operating charitable, health, welfare, recreational and allied programs in the Washington Metropolitan Area and throughout the United States. We provide plans, facilities, manpower and community leadership for unified fundraising campaigns. The United Black Fund of Greater Washington, the United Black Fund of America remain as lasting legacies to the spirit, courage, humanity and love of both Calvin and Wilhelmina Rolark.