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At Lumina Foundation, we are committed to expanding economic opportunity and broadening social mobility by making high-quality learning after high school available to everyone.
The beating heart of our work is a commitment to achieve racial justice and equity. To help realize the American ideal of “a more perfect union,” in which educational achievement and other measures of health and civic participation are no longer determined by an individual’s race or ethnicity, we are committing $15 million over the next three years to Lumina’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity.
Following racist violence at a “Unite the Right” rally in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the deadly counterdemonstrations, this fund awarded more than $2.5 million to advance social justice initiatives.
These projects were aimed primarily at improving the climate around race relations on college campuses. Among grants that Lumina awarded were $1 million to support the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California; funding for American Public Media’s APM Reports to explore racial issues on campuses through a series of podcasts that will culminate in an hour-long documentary available Aug. 14; 19 grants to colleges and universities nationally that are working to improve conditions for students of color; and several grants to Indianapolis-area nonprofits whose work fosters racial justice.
With the death in May of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, who now face charges as serious as second-degree murder, the urgency of addressing the structural barriers confronting people of color in American society compelled us to do more. This replenished fund is how we will sustain our racial justice work. We will use it to call attention to issues that absolutely must be addressed for the nation to reach the level of education attainment it needs to thrive: that is, 60 percent of working-age adults with a college degree or other quality credential by 2025.
Lumina is prepared to do its part. And we invite the public and our partners to hold us accountable. We want you to ask about this work, make suggestions, and to help ensure that we meet our commitment to work toward racial justice.
As in 2017, money from the fund will support work within Indiana as well as national efforts. Our focus will be to support social justice organizations and efforts aligned with Lumina’s mission, and we will prioritize projects carried out by those whose races and ethnicities reflect the areas they propose to serve.
We have joined with Eli Lilly & Co.’s corporate foundation to create the Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund, housed at Central Indiana Community Foundation. The fund already totals more than $2 million—all raised to support organizations that are focused on having difficult conversations about Indiana’s and the nation’s racial history; supporting nonprofit efforts to address racial inequities, especially related to the criminal justice system; and advancing data-driven approaches to fight racism at the local level.
We are still working out details of further funding from Lumina’s $15 million fund. But we know that to establish a just and fair society, we have a moral responsibility to take on the nation’s sordid past—and to push for the conversation and action we will need to resolve racial challenges.
Lumina Foundation will invest $15M to fight systemic racism | Indy Star | July 28, 2020
Lumina Foundation Commits $15 Million To Racial Justice Projects | Forbes | July 26, 2020
Members of the Lumina Foundation staff are sharing our “equity narratives” – personal journeys around race in America. These are part of a collective effort to explore the country’s long history of structural racism and how these barriers affect the people we’re trying to help — and influence how and why we chose this work. Read more about the project.