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INDIANAPOLIS – Oregon today joins Colorado and Tennessee in receiving a Lumina Foundation grant to carry out its commitment to educating more students of color. The state will use the money to adopt strategies for increasing completion of education beyond high school. The aim is to help states like Oregon eliminate growing disparities in completion rates between their overall population and their African-American, Latino, and American Indian residents.
Lumina established the Talent, Innovation and Equity Partnership program (“TIE partnership”) to provide a specific suite of grant, planning, research, and other supports to states. The TIE partnership seeks to increase college completion in a select group of states that are well positioned to provide exemplary leadership, particularly in closing gaps in educational achievement linked to race, ethnicity, and income status. Oregon is poised for this important work, with one of the most ambitious state goals for improving educational attainment in the nation. The state recently adopted a high-reaching companion goal for the education of adult Oregonians that is specifically tied to career opportunities. Their work is anchored in a state-adopted equity lens, driving a focus on improving outcomes for populations that colleges and universities do not serve well.
The $689,000 grant to Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission includes additional support to allow the state to join a cohort of Adult Promise states that have pledged to provide financial and other supports to help more adults earn degrees. Oregon already offers need-based financial aid and some childcare support to adult students. Through the Lumina-funded effort, Oregon will identify adult residents who have some college experience but, because of a variety of barriers, have been unable to finish and earn degrees. Working with community organizations, Oregon will design an outreach campaign to encourage these adults to re-enroll in college.
The TIE initiative supports states with technical assistance and multi-year grants. TIE is part of Lumina’s effort to promote national awareness of the need to put racial and economic justice at the center of states’ efforts to increase the proportion of adults with education or training after high school. Oregon, Colorado, and Tennessee are among 42 states that have set clear goals for better educating their residents. Through TIE and related projects, Lumina seeks to ensure that all states strive to eliminate disparities in educational attainment across racial and ethnic groups.
To ensure that 60 percent of Americans have education beyond high school by 2025, states must focus on students who have too often been left behind by the current system of higher education. State policymakers are well positioned to drive this change. That’s why Lumina launched the $3 million TIE initiative: to spur committed states to address race-based completion disparities so more residents earn college degrees, certificates, industry certifications, and other quality credentials beyond high school.
TIE is important because nationally, fewer than 30 percent of blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans have earned a post-high school credential. Among whites, the achievement rate is 46 percent. Lumina’s Stronger Nation report further highlights these unequal outcomes, including the racial and ethnic disparities seen in Oregon.
“We’re seeing evidence states can lead when it comes to making higher education more accessible and affordable to increase the number of people ready for work and life over the next decade,” said Danette Howard, Lumina’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “Through Talent, Innovation, and Equity, we hope to help states develop talent prepared to meet future challenges.”
The foundation expects to award grants to as many as six states. Lumina is looking for states that are working to create policy environments conducive to increasing attainment, particularly through efforts described in Lumina’s state policy agenda. Lumina also seeks states whose leaders commit publicly to address racial disparities, because meeting the 60 percent goal will require a strong focus on helping more students of color finish their programs and earn degrees. Also, states must focus on students from low-income families, people who are the first in their families to attend college, adults with no recognized learning beyond high school, and adults who stepped away from college for financial, family, or other reasons.
Lumina believes there are state officials willing to work toward fair and just educational outcomes for students of color by elevating and supporting colleges, universities, and other providers that do a good job serving these students. We’re also convinced that, by bringing together financial, community, and learning resources, these officials can help lead an effort that can reduce race-based disparities in the share of state populations with education beyond high school by 5 percentage points before 2020. Lumina also is forming a network of TIE states and highlighting their efforts as part of its Strategy Labs outreach to policymakers.