The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program was designed as part of a long–term commitment by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help remedy, and eventually eradicate, the serious shortage of faculty of color in higher education.

Through the comprehensive mentoring and financial support which the MMUF Program provides to selected Fellows, starting at the end of their sophomore year, the Program seeks to provide the requisites for a successful preparation for training for, and entering the professoriate.

The central aim of the program is to increase over time, the diversity in the faculty ranks of institutions of higher learning within the U.S. academy. In addition to this fundamental objective of alleviating the under-representation of minorities on the faculties of institutions of higher learning, the program also serves the related goals of addressing the attendant educational consequences of these racial disparities, improving ethnic and racial relations in campus environments, and of providing role models for all youth.