Racial Justice and Equity

To achieve equity, we must focus our efforts. The promise of American opportunity has always been in sharp contrast with our nation’s legacy of racial discrimination and oppression. At Lumina, we work with others to pursue racial equity, diversity, and inclusion to address systemic racism that fosters injustice.

Unfortunately, today’s education systems fail to meet the needs of today’s students. These students are more racially and ethnically diverse. They are more likely to work full time. And they are more likely to experience poverty, a lack of stable housing, and food insecurity. These circumstances reflect widening gaps in income, wealth, and access to opportunity.

Policies, practices, and beliefs—rooted in history and still affecting people today—especially keep many Black, Native American, and Hispanic people from the education and skills they need. These systems unfairly hold back students who are seeking a better education and a better life. Racial disparities in the United States are widening, and without concerted efforts, such inequity will continue to grow.

Deliberate policies created or contributed to these unjust conditions, and it will take focused efforts to remove those barriers and achieve racial equity. Higher education has an important role to play. Even amid serious challenges, education and training after high school remain among the most secure pathways to economic stability. But the country needs a learning system that works well for everyone.

We work with partners to pursue racial and economic fairness by ensuring that colleges, universities, and other education providers do all they can to make opportunity real for students of color, students who are the first in their families to go to college, students from low-income families, and working-age adults.

Lumina’s Commitment

To pursue its mission with integrity, Lumina must exhibit the change it desires. We must:

  • Prioritize real change in policy and systems that address the origins of inequality and inequity.

  • Build competence among board members, senior leadership, and staff members to authentically and collaboratively engage communities of color.

  • Embed a commitment to racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in our recruitment and hiring practices, our contracting and grantmaking practices, and our investment practices.

  • Promote the capacity of our grantees and contractors to pursue racial equity, diversity, and inclusion.

  • Foster and support efforts to promote racial equity, diversity, and inclusion within philanthropy.

Our Commitment in Practice

Lumina announced nearly $3.2 million in grants in early 2021 to 11 organizations locally and nationally working to advance racial justice and equity. The foundation’s Racial Justice and Equity Fund was established in 2017 with $2.5 million in grants to improve racial climate on college campuses and elevate dialogue about racial injustice in everyday life. Those initial grants came in response to racially motivated violence that August at the University of Virginia. In mid-2020, after George Floyd’s death in police custody sparked widespread demonstrations, Lumina pledged an additional $15 million in grants over the next three years to help dismantle structural racism in ways the advance and complement its mission. The more than $3 million announced in early 2021 is part of this commitment.

Download One-Pager

Lumina’s Commitment to
Racial Justice and Equity

Latest Racial Justice and Equity Grants

Lumina Foundation has released the first grants from a $15 million Racial Justice and Equity Fund to national and Indianapolis-based organizations that focus on eradicating systemic racism in fields that align with or complement the foundation’s work. Read more.


Racial Justice and Equity

Latest News

News stories from around the web on fulfilling the American promise through racial equity. Get these and more higher-ed headlines delivered to your inbox daily.

Equity Matters

Find additional resources on racial equity.

Learn More

Want to learn more?

Equality of Opportunity
Insights on race and opportunity nationally
Big Data Can Open Pathways »
Inequality, Injustice Explained
Identifying structural obstacles to success
Watch "Race, Equality, Equity" »
Social Justice Training Institute
Get training on social justice and inclusion
Working for All Groups in Society »
Race on College Campuses
Lumina: 'Stop talking' and 'start doing'
Read our CEO's Statement »