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The tragic, senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the resulting cries of anguish have profoundly affected all of us at Lumina Foundation.

We stand as one in resolute opposition to the repetitive pattern of societal violence and injustice Black Americans experience. The outrage we feel has been informed and shaped by the lived experiences and pain of our African American colleagues who confront these indignities and indecencies each and every day.

Lumina Foundation is committed to doing all we can to ensure real opportunity, with real results for individuals and society. But as a nation, we are falling short. Opportunity in America isn’t equal.

We believe that no matter where you come from, the color of your skin, or what you look like, you should have the support you need to learn, grow, and thrive as you participate in our democratic way of life free from the threat of violence and injustice.

The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans who are black and brown has brought with it staggering levels of unemployment on top of a foundation of injustice. These social and economic conditions have had devastating consequences for the fabric of the entire nation, affecting all of us as Americans.

None of this is a coincidence.

These grim conditions arise from unfair policies, actions, beliefs, and assumptions over hundreds of years specifically designed to disadvantage people of color—and over time from stark leadership failures. Policies, practices, and beliefs—rooted in history and still affecting people today—keep many Black, Native American, and Hispanic people from the education and skills they need and desire.

Recent events, culminating with this weekend’s demonstrations, protests, and marches mean those of us at Lumina must sharpen our focus on fixing systems that unfairly hold people back. Together with others, we can remove barriers and obstacles to prepare people for informed, active citizenship and to contribute to our collective success in a global economy.

We must rise to the challenge.

As a white man, I accept my share of responsibility for the historic wrongs our nation seems unable to right. And as the leader of an organization dedicated to achieving just and fair outcomes for every student, I promise that Lumina—and I—will do more.

None of us can grow complacent from the continuing chasm of injustice our nation seems unable to traverse.  Responding with a statement a week after the death of George Floyd and after a series of racially biased police incidents toward African Americans seems wholly inadequate.  We must do better.

In the coming weeks, Lumina Foundation will announce additional efforts in this area that build on existing bodies of work and help lay the track for a new, longer-term strategic plan that will be released this summer.

At Lumina, we pledge to play a vital, more proactive role in creating a higher learning system for Americans that responds to the needs of today’s increasingly diverse students and eliminates racial and ethnic disparities among those who have college degrees and other credentials of value.

Only when justice has been achieved can we hope to realize the American promise of better lives for all.

Jamie Merisotis
President and CEO
Lumina Foundation

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