Opportunity is not fairly or equally distributed.
More people than ever need some kind of education and training after high school that leads to a short-term credential or associate or bachelor’s degree. Nearly two-thirds of new jobs demand such advanced knowledge and skills. And Lumina’s mission is helping people who are Black, Hispanic, and Native America, or adults with only a high school diploma, immigrants and the first in their families to go on after high school, or people from low-income families.
By 2025, 60 percent of Americans must have college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized certifications or other credentials that lead them to further education and provide labor-market benefits such as better jobs and higher pay.
Committed to the belief that everyone, regardless of background, should have opportunities for learning after high school, we embraced this national goal. We believe achieving it is necessary for a strong society and economy.
But all of us know that opportunity isn’t equally distributed. Despite increases in the percentage of adults earning associate and bachelor’s degrees over time, stark disparities in educational attainment by race and ethnicity after high school persist.
Education rates among young adults who are Asian (65.6 percent) or white (44.9 percent) are higher than those of peers who are Black (24.7 percent), Hispanic (17.9 percent), or Native American (16.9 percent). We must ensure that education systems work fairly for all students, especially for people of color who individually face discrimination and also must overcome systemic racism.
Each of us at Lumina has experienced or participated in racial injustice. We each have a story to tell. We’ve talked with each other about how we first encountered racial differences, how our upbringings and personal values influence our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, and how our ability to process, understand, and talk about these experiences affects our work at the foundation and our orientation toward people are different.
Several Lumina colleagues made a courageous leap. They chose to share their stories publicly. And we expect more co-workers to tell their stories as our collective journey continues.
Although we feel we have made progress, we know there’s a lot of work ahead.
Our work is to end structural racism.
We focus on eliminating the systemic barriers that unfairly hold back Black, Hispanic, and Native American students—barriers such as racial bias, limited family wealth, a lack of college readiness arising from subpar schools, and related challenges that deny them real opportunity.
We join with business, community, and higher education leaders, state and federal policymakers, nonpartisan advocacy organizations, and other leaders and individuals to address structural racism wherever it exists.
We encourage leaders to examine how particular groups of students perform and then consider the specific supports and services they need to realize their hopes and aspirations.
We work with community colleges, bachelor’s-granting institutions, and other education providers. And we focus on learning as the measure of quality. We are passionate about making a difference for people have long been denied fairness and justice.
These are often people of color with no recognized learning after high school, who have “stopped out” of college without earning degrees, or students out of high school who are enrolling in college or pursuing industry training.