Let’s tell a better story about community colleges

From excellent student services to beautiful campus facilities, heartfelt community engagement, and dynamic classroom experiences, community colleges embody the dreams and aspirations of their communities. 

But too often, the narrative about who should attend community college (and why) centers on deficit-based framing. These narratives are dominated by competing data points that don’t always paint a complete picture of the range of experiences or the profound impact of a community college education.   

For the past two years, we at Lumina Foundation have engaged in a conversation nationally about understanding and strengthening community college brands. While it’s become common to discuss the negativesenrollment declines and other challengesit’s far less common to hear success stories about community colleges and their students. 

We want to help change that. 

Community colleges have proudly embraced their open-access mission for years, and while that’s still a defining feature, it’s just one aspect of what makes these colleges so special. Community colleges are as diverse as four-year colleges and universities. They exist in communities both big and small, and their range of programs inspires, creates, and builds career and life opportunities. 

At Lumina Foundation, we invest in today’s students by creating clearer paths to learning beyond high school. We know the higher education system in this country needs work. We also know that every day, colleges across America open their virtual and physical doors to students, their communities, and employer partners to do excellent things. 

So, we’re excited to offer a special mini-grant opportunity—and Lumina Foundation’s first-ever Instagram challengeto help elevate a much-needed narrative shift around community colleges and what they do. 

Callout to community colleges: Get Reel

We invite community colleges to showcase their brand of magic in an Instagram Reel to potential students, the community, or employers. 

To apply, post a 90-second video touting why your college is the best choice—not what’s practical or convenient, but specifically #WhatsExcellent about your community college. Then, submit the Reel link and a brief application to Lumina. 

Up to six recipients will receive $50,000 each to enhance their college’s digital outreach and marketing efforts. 

For more information and to apply, visit https://www.luminafoundation.org/challenge/mini-grant/. 

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