What is Lumina Foundation?

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. We envision a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. Our goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

Where is Lumina Foundation located?

Lumina’s Headquarters are located downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The Foundation also has an office in Washington, D.C.

When was Lumina Foundation founded?

Lumina was established in August of 2000.

What is the size of Lumina's endowment?

Lumina is among the nation’s top 100 private foundations with an endowment in excess of $1 billion.

How was Lumina Foundation founded?

Lumina was created in August 2000 with an initial endowment of $770 million in cash and stock. From the beginning, Lumina has been committed to working toward a better-educated country. We focus on learners who are Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American, the first in their families to go to college, or are from low-income families. Many attend community colleges, public universities, historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges.

We chose this path after creating a charitable endowment using proceeds of the sale of most operating assets of Indianapolis-based USA Group, then the nation’s largest private, nonprofit guarantor and administrator of college loans. The sale’s proceeds went to USA Group’s foundation, which converted to become Lumina, an independent private foundation, with $1.4 billion in assets today.

Loan company Sallie Mae purchased the original USA Group assets. Lumina was never in business with Sallie Mae and never issued loans. We have no ties whatsoever to the student loan industry. The sale of assets to Sallie Mae included receiving company stock. When we charted our course as a social-change organization, we quickly sold the Sallie Mae stock, resulting in a sudden, nearly 5 percent decline in the company’s market capitalization.

Does Lumina give scholarships?

No, Lumina does not give scholarships. Lumina supports its mission in a very targeted way: all of the Foundation’s resources are focused on system-level change that can lead to large-scale impact. Lumina believes that education, specifically higher education, provides the basis for individual opportunity, economic vitality and social stability. With its partners, both grantees and contractors, Lumina strives to meet workforce demands and close gaps in attainment for groups not historically well-served by higher education. Read about Lumina’s grant-making process.

How do I apply for a grant?

Please visit our Grantee FAQ document.

How much does Lumina grant away yearly?

Each year, every private foundation must make eligible charitable expenditures that equal or exceed approximately 5 percent of the value of its endowment.

Can I view financial statements?

Because the Lumina Foundation is a tax-exempt private foundation formed for public purposes, the Foundation believes it has an obligation to operate in a transparent manner. We publish information about finances, grantmaking programs, operations, and compliance with applicable tax requirements on the disclosures page of our website. See IRS rules on private foundations’ tax status.

Can Lumina Foundation lobby?

In accordance with section 4945 of the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury regulations Section 53.4945, Lumina is prohibited from using funds for lobbying. All of the Foundation’s policy and advocacy work is implemented in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Code and related Treasury regulations. Lumina’s work focuses on non-partisan research and analysis.

What's the progress on the 2025 goal?

Lumina publishes A Stronger Nation, to specifically track progress toward the nation’s 60% attainment goal. This report is from a national perspective, and also includes data for the nation’s largest metro areas, each of the 50 states, and data even down to the county level.

How is Lumina governed?

Lumina Foundation is governed by its board of directors.