The purpose of UMOJA is to unite students and student groups of the African Diaspora at the University of Pennsylvania through effective collaboration, increased political representation, and the dissemination of information.
The constituent organizations of UMOJA (Unity) fall under the six remaining principles of Kwanzaa. They are:
- NIA (Purpose)
- UJIMA (Creative Work and Responsibility)
- IMANI (Faith)
- UJAMAA (Cooperative Economics)
- KUJICHAGULIA (Self-Determination)
- KUUMBA (Creativity)
The Umoja Executive Board currently consists of Planning and Facilitating Co-Chairs, Political Chair, Internal Affairs Chair, Admissions Chair, Programming Chair, Finance Chair, and Correspondent. The Executive Board as well as representatives from the 30 Black student groups are advised by and work in collaboration with Makuu: The Black Cultural Center. As a collective governing body, the Executive Board provides supplemental funding and support to groups applying for university resources.
The Executive Board holds bi-monthly meetings with Umoja representatives and serves as a political voice by addressing concerns such as public safety, minority recruitment and retention, and the current Penn curriculum. The Executive Board, also in collaboration with Makuu, facilitates a fall Leadership retreat for its constituents in an effort to build community and assist in the development of successful programs.
Since its inception in the Spring of 1998 (its first full term being held during the 1998-1999 academic year), Umoja continues to thrive as a coalition, one that is constantly growing and increasing awareness among the Penn Community. It began as a means through which constituent groups were collaborative and did not schedule conflicting events. As it began to aggregate Black leaders in a space, it also took on the role of advocating on their behalf to the administration. Past accomplishments have included Du Bois College House renovations, faculty diversity initiatives, and student mobilization around campus climate concerns and national injustices impacting Black life.