INDIANAPOLIS—Lumina Foundation has awarded 23 new grants from a $15 million Racial Justice and Equity Fund. The fund supports national and Indianapolis-based organizations focused on disrupting systemic racism in ways aligned with or complementary to Lumina’s mission of supporting a better-educated country.

In July 2020, Lumina announced the three-year funding commitment to support an array of justice projects, awarding almost $6.6 million to 23 organizations in 2021 and early this year. Another $3.2 million was awarded to 11 organizations in late 2020.

Investments from this fund commenced in response to racially motivated violence in 2017 at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. Lumina renewed and strengthened its commitment to achieving racial justice and equity after George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police.

“A desire to achieve racial equity, especially in terms of educational attainment, is embedded in virtually everything we do,” said Jamie Merisotis, Lumina’s president and CEO. “Our Racial Justice and Equity Fund has been a signature effort in response to racially motivated violence. Most of our investments—grants, contracts, impact investments—across our different areas of work explicitly address racial disparities in outcomes.”

In the latest rounds of funding, Lumina identified 13 new organizations to award $3.6 million in multiyear grants and awarded another 10 grants totaling nearly $3 million to organizations that responded to an open call for proposals. They were:

Higher Education

American Association of Colleges & Universities ($400,000)—To support the expansion of Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers to prepare the next generation of leaders and thinkers to break down racial hierarchies in higher education.

Boston University Center for Antiracist Research ($500,000)—To convene researchers and practitioners from various disciplines to figure out novel and practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity and injustice. The center relies on research-based policy innovation, data-driven educational and advocacy campaigns, and narrative-change initiatives.

Indigenous Futures Institute, University of California, San Diego ($400,000)—To support the Mat-koo-la-hoo-ee Project, examining the history and cultural significance of the native land where UC San Diego is located. Also, to support the Kumeyaay Water Craft Project.

John Jay College Institute for Justice and Opportunity ($350,000)—To address barriers to people who have been in jail or prison that prevent them from accessing quality post-high school education and careers.

Mary Jane’s Legacy Project, The Ohio State University ($250,000)—To support the Mary Jane’s Legacy Project, a research-and-action effort centering on Black women’s experiences and challenges in earning college degrees.

Equity Research Cooperative ($250,000)—To support the cooperative’s plans to develop and launch a College Students of Color Experience Survey.

Reach Higher/Common App ($175,000)—To support improved access to and support for Minority-Serving Institutions using the Common App—and by extension to prospective students of color who use the application to apply to multiple colleges online.

University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law ($400,000)—To support the Critical Race Studies Program at the UCLA School of Law, which focuses on the intersection of race and law.

Legal Aid

Lawyers for Good Government ($350,000)—To mobilize the legal profession in support of people who have been harmed by systemic racism, using means such as policy resource and analysis.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund ($300,000)—To support to the fund’s efforts to advocate for racial justice. The fund supports protecting voting rights, reforming the criminal justice system, achieving educational equity, and ensuring economic justice for all.

National Legal Aid & Defender Association ($300,000)—To support the Black Public Defender Association’s efforts to expand its summer fellowship model, which advances racial diversity within the criminal defense community by giving Black students opportunities to work with public defender mentors.

Southern Poverty Law Center ($400,000)—To ensure fair and just educational opportunities and advance youth “decarceration” efforts such as raising the minimum age for locking up teenagers and putting more restorative justice approaches in place.

Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice ($200,000)—To increase the effectiveness of the clinic’s program, which trains college students to support refugees who are navigating the asylum process and other public systems.

Social Justice

Border Network for Human Rights ($400,000)—To organize marginalized border communities to defend and promote civil and human rights by creating economic, political, and social conditions affording individual dignity.

Capital B News ($300,000)—To support the launch of a national news organization building local news operations focused on investigative and service journalism that exposes racial injustice and ensures Black Americans have access to quality journalism.

Highlander Research and Education Center ($400,000)—To support the Tennessee nonprofit’s efforts to catalyze grassroots organizing and movement building in Appalachia and the South among people fighting for equality, justice, and sustainability.

Jeremiah Program ($50,000)—To support national work to disrupt the cycle of poverty among single mothers and their children, two generations at a time.

Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples ($250,000)—The fund, which advocates for the right of self-determination and the sovereignty of Native lands, will support programs that respond to, prevent, and remedy violence against Native women and girls.


ACLU of Indiana Foundation ($100,000)—To support the Indiana ACLU chapter’s efforts to expand its “Yes! You Can Vote!” campaign, and to strengthen partnerships with community and coalition members.

Asante Art Institute of Indianapolis ($124,100)—To support programming that enables Black children to learn about their history and culture.

Goodwill Foundation of Central & Southern Indiana ($250,000)—To support Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana’s collaboration with Cook Medical Group to bring 100 jobs to residents of Indianapolis’ near eastside through a $7 million, 40,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

Indiana University-Purdue University School of Education ($250,000)—To support the Education for Liberation program at IUPUI, which works with schools in Indiana to bring about change benefiting students of color and other students poorly served by public K-12 education.

Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council ($175,000)—To support the Accelerate 100+ program, which has committed to providing tools and processes to grow existing Black-owned businesses and launch new entrepreneurial ventures.

About 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.


Back to News