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Barriers to learning that hurt students of color across the nation present both a crisis and an opportunity. In Indianapolis, a diverse and dedicated partnership of leaders is collaborating to solve this.
For the past year, Business Equity for Indy, a joint effort of Indiana businesses, educators, and community organizations, including Lumina Foundation, has been working to nurture a more inclusive business climate and create more significant economic and educational opportunities for people of color.
Each of us focuses on one of five pillars ranging from health to hiring. Lumina is part of the Learning and Talent Taskforce, aimed at helping people learn and earn beyond high school. The trends aren’t positive: this fall, Indiana saw a 2.6 percent drop in degree-seeking students at public universities, bringing our five-year drop in enrollment to 10.4 percent. The largest declines in colleges and universities awarding degrees were among Black students.
A new BEI report shows that Marion County is failing to serve Black residents, leading to lower wages earned one, three, and five years after graduation. These setbacks worsened as COVID-19 hit black families the hardest.
These losses hurt our neighbors and businesses that struggle to find the diverse, expert talent needed to fill jobs. Our report suggests ways Indiana policymakers, employers, and educators can make meaningful changes for people of color, including our rapidly growing Hispanic population. They include:
These proposals hold promise for improving academic outcomes. We already see progress in programs such as Modern Apprenticeship, which helps Central Indiana students train in high-demand fields, such as advanced manufacturing, while still in high school.
We have a good start as we innovate, implement, and invest in solutions. But systemic racism requires all of us working together to produce fair and just outcomes for every student.
As business leaders and human beings, we are committed to racial equity and ensuring that everyone—here at home in Indianapolis and far beyond—can learn, earn and contribute their talents to a better world.
[Courtney Brown, Ph.D., is vice president of impact and planning at Lumina Foundation. Brown oversees Lumina’s strategic planning, impact, and effectiveness and leads international engagement.]Back to News
A Stronger Nation – July 2020 update
Twelve takeaways from the July 2020 data update.