Lumina to award talent, innovation, equity grants to states with favorable education policy environments that firmly commit to closing equity gaps

INDIANAPOLIS – To meet the national goal of 60 percent of Americans with education beyond high school by 2025, the nation must better educate and train students who have been left behind by the existing post-high school education system. State policymakers are well-positioned to drive the changes needed across the learning landscape. That’s why Lumina Foundation is launching a $3 million initiative to spur states to increase the numbers of residents with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications, and other high-quality credentials.

The Talent, Innovation, Equity (TIE) initiative will support states with technical assistance and multi-year grants of up to $500,000 each. Lumina intends to promote national awareness of the need to put equity at the center of state attainment agendas. So far, 40 states have set clear goals for raising educational achievement beyond high school. Through TIE and other efforts, Lumina aims to ensure the other states set similarly high goals.

Among reasons, TIE is important: Fewer than 30 percent of African-Americans, Hispanics, and American Indians have earned credentials beyond a high school diploma. Among whites, the post-high school achievement rate is 46 percent. Lumina’s Stronger Nation report further highlights these unequal outcomes.

The Foundation expects to award grants to up to a half-dozen states. Lumina is looking for states that have made progress on creating policy environments conducive to increasing attainment, including through efforts described in Lumina’s state policy agenda, and whose leaders publicly commit to closing equity gaps. Meeting a 60 percent national goal will require a strong focus on increasing educational achievement among African-American, Hispanic, and American Indian students. Also, states must focus on students from low-income families, people who are the first in their families to attend college, and working-age adults, including adults with no recognized learning beyond high school to those who stopped out of college for financial, family, or other reasons.

Through its work with states, Lumina believes there is a set of states, willing to put equity at the forefront by elevating and supporting institutional exemplars and bringing together financial, community, and learning resources, that can set a new pace by raising attainment and reducing inequitable outcomes by 5 percentage points by 2020.

We aim to spur states to drive innovation and improvement in ways that are not possible through institutional efforts alone.

“States are well-positioned to lead in the effort to make higher education more accessible, navigable, and affordable so that we can significantly increase the number of Americans with education beyond high school over the next decade,” said Danette Howard, Lumina’s senior vice president and chief strategy officer. “Through our TIE commitment, we aim to spur states to drive innovation and improvement in ways that are not possible through institutional efforts alone—with the ultimate goal of developing talent prepared to meet future challenges.”

In addition to grant funding, Lumina will provide states with supports such as:

  • Personalized consulting to support colleges, universities, and other providers positioned to help increase attainment and address equity gaps;
  • Briefings and retreats for legislators, legislative staff, and other policymakers on emerging and best practices;
  • Nonpartisan guidance on implementing Lumina’s 2017-20 state policy agenda recommendations; and,
  • Opportunities to learn from similarly situated states.

Lumina will work with TIE state leaders to position them as champions among states for increasing educational attainment. The Foundation will form a network of TIE states and highlight their efforts through convenings and other forms of awareness raising. The TIE initiative is an outgrowth of Lumina’s Strategy Labs, a platform for supporting state efforts to increase post-high school attainment.

“Through Strategy Labs, Lumina has learned a lot about what works in spurring state leaders to set and achieve goals around growing the number of residents with higher learning,” said Scott Jenkins, the Foundation’s director of state policy. “With the TIE states, we’re taking the effort to close equity gaps in states to the next level.”

For information about how to become a TIE state, please contact Gretchen Syverud, strategy officer for state policy, at or 317.951.5340.

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