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Lumina offers grants to help states advance equity-minded leadership

Lumina Foundation is offering six-month grants of up to $50,000 for states that focus on some of the essential practices needed to grow equitable educational attainment.

Designed to support states in developing equity-minded leadership, the Equity Leadership Acceleration Grants will build on the progress seen in the last two years among the foundation’s Talent, Innovation, and Equity or TIE states.

Those are places that have identified a set of conditions – the essential practices – enabling them to advance equity-minded leadership, recognize racial and ethnic disparities in educational outcomes and increase post-high school learning among students of color.

Lumina began the TIE states program in 2017 with $3 million in grants. The awards were meant to spur states to increase the number of residents with quality postsecondary credentials and to commit to reduce attainment gaps linked to race- by 5 percentage points within four years. 

To continue that work, the Equity Leadership Acceleration Grant process begins with a self-assessment in which leaders – including governor’s offices and state higher education executives – reflect on their state’s current equity efforts, identify the status of their equity agenda, and determine areas for improvement. 

Up to 10 states will be awarded grants and will develop plans focused on up to two essential elements. States not selected can apply for technical assistance from the Lumina Strategy Labs.

The essential practices TIE states have identified as enabling their equity work include:

  1. Setting an ambitious postsecondary attainment goal with specific targets for equity populations.
  2. Developing accountability metrics and public dashboards to track progress toward the state’s attainment goal.
  3. Identifying how the attainment of equity populations relates to the state’s workforce needs and its postsecondary attainment goals.
  4. Assembling a multi-stakeholder coalition to support the state’s postsecondary attainment agenda and the closing of racial equity gaps
  5. Engaging state leaders as “equity champions” to highlight issues related to racial equity.
  6. Aligning fiscal policies/budget expenditures with the state goals to increase attainment, especially for African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian students.
  7. Proactively communicating the state’s attainment goals and amplifying messages about racial equity.  
  8. Mobilizing institutions of higher education to implement strategies designed to close equity gaps and to raise attainment for students of color

Forty-two states have already established ambitious goals to raise postsecondary attainment and are actively monitoring their progress. But as Lumina’s Stronger Nation report shows, while most states are succeeding in increasing attainment, educational disparities persist for African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian learners.

If you are a state leader who is interested in putting equity at the center of your state’s postsecondary attainment agenda, please contact Paola Santana, strategy officer for state policy, at psantana@luminafoundation.org or 317.951.5490 for additional information.

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Tracy Chen
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