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Lumina’s work to increase education attainment is guided by an equity-first approach, one that puts racial justice and equity at the center of everything we do. For us, equity will be achieved when outcomes—such as the likelihood of having a high-quality postsecondary credential—can’t be predicted by a person’s race or ethnicity. Racial justice will be realized when the policies, practices, systems, and root causes that lead to inequitable outcomes are dismantled and eradicated. All of our new work will be aligned with these definitions, and we will:

  • Design our work to increase educational attainment among the groups who face the greatest barriers to securing education and building their skills.
  • Work to remove barriers that cause differential outcomes by race and ethnicity.
  • Focus on efforts designed to benefit people of color.
  • Work with partner organizations on how they demonstrate commitment and capacity to lead on racial justice and equity.
  • Support our partner organizations’ efforts to form racially and ethnically diverse boards, leadership teams, and staffs that reflect the communities they serve.


Aug. 19 RFP Information Session

The RJE Fund

As part of this approach, Lumina Foundation created its Racial Justice and Equity (RJE) Fund in 2017 and re-capitalized it in 2020. The fund is designed to directly support organizations and efforts working to eradicate systemic racism and to advance equity and justice for those who have experienced racial oppression: Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. In addition, the RJE Fund invests in efforts outside of Lumina’s core strategies that have a meaningful connection to higher education. Lumina views this connection, or adjacency, as an established relationship or partnership with a higher education institution or set of institutions and/or supporting college students.

Through this request for proposals, we are seeking new grantees whose work can be aided by the fund.

The common thread that unites all Lumina RJE grantees is their explicit focus on eradicating systemic racism: working to mitigate and eliminate the entrenched policies, practices, and beliefs that continue to stand in the way of racial equity and justice. Current RJE Fund grantees embody this focus, while connecting with higher education in multiple ways. Some examples:

These organizations and efforts are strong examples of work we hope to support.

The RFP Opportunity

Through this RFP, which represents an overall investment of $3 million, Lumina will support seven to 10 organizations with grants of up to $400,000 each for up to two years. Eligible entities include 501(c)(3) organizations, public charities, and other nonprofits, such as:

  • Community-based organizations
  • Public policy/advocacy organizations
  • Tribal organizations
  • Social movement/mobilization organizations
  • Centers within higher education institutions

Government agencies and for-profit businesses and organizations are not eligible.

Lumina seeks to partner with organizations that are specifically focused on supporting Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, and/or AAPI populations by working to eradicate systemic racism, including those connected to higher education, as described above. This RFP is not designed for organizations looking to launch an equity initiative, start a new diversity, equity, and inclusion function, or organizations whose missions and work are not explicitly focused on racial equity.

Centers focused on racial equity and justice located within colleges and universities are eligible to apply. However, higher education institutions that are working to improve outcomes for students of color more broadly are not eligible.

Organizations most likely to receive funding are those that:

  • Show how racial justice and equity are core to their mission and operations and be able to describe how staff are equipped to lead equity work.
  • Describe how work addresses the objective of the RJE Fund, which is eradicating systemic racism.
  • Describe how their work connects with higher education, as described above.
  • Have board members, executives, leaders, and staff who reflect the communities they aim to serve.
  • Have strong track records of advancing racial justice and equity at the local, state, or national level.

RFP Process

The RFP will follow a two-step process.

  1. Initial Application – Interested respondents should complete the initial application, which requests basic organizational information and brief responses to several questions. A live webinar, scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT on Aug. 19, will provide additional provide information and allow interested organizations to ask questions. The webinar will be recorded and posted online. The initial application will be anonymized prior to review to minimize bias on the part of the review team. Applications will be assessed using a rubric that aligns with the criteria and priorities listed above. We expect to advance 18-24 respondents into the full proposal phase.
  2. Full Proposal – Organizations invited to submit full proposals will receive the proposal document directly from Lumina. In it, organizations will be asked to provide detailed examples of their racial equity and justice work, to develop a budget, and to submit supplementary materials (financial statements, board information, etc.). Proposals will not be anonymized at this stage but will be reviewed using an expanded rubric.
    • Lumina will reach out to organizations that advancing to the full proposal stage to schedule an equity discussion, which will help us learn more about your organization.
    • Following the equity discussion and internal approvals, we will inform all organizations invited to submit a proposal of their grant status.


RFP Timeline
Aug. 12 RFP announcement and release
Aug. 19 Webinar for potential respondents
Sept. 2 Initial applications due by 5:00 p.m. EDT
Sept. 27 Respondents notified; proposal invitations released to advancing organizations
Oct. 21 Proposals due by 5:00 p.m. EDT
Nov. 22 Organizations notified
Dec. 3 Grant agreements signed


Eligible respondents may request funding in any amount up to $400,000. Requesting less than $400,000 will not enhance the probability of receiving a grant. Lumina’s support may be used to secure matching grants, but Lumina will not require matching funds.

Grant funds may be used for:

  • Program support, intended to support specific initiatives within organizations.
  • Operating support, intended to support core organizational functions.
  • Capacity-building support, intended to help organizations expand reach and ability to do new work or to improve upon existing efforts.

Lumina funds may not be used to support partisan political or lobbying[1] efforts or individual or institutional scholarship programs.

All legal proceedings and matters pertaining to grants provided through this opportunity will be governed by the laws of the state of Indiana.


Prior to submitting the Initial Application, complete Lumina’s Partner Survey.

To submit an Initial Application, please complete the Initial Application form in full. Because we are anonymizing these forms at review, we ask that you minimize the use of organization and individual names. Please adhere to the requested word limits.

This opportunity is now closed.

The due date for initial applications was Sept. 2, 2021.

We encourage you to ask any questions you might have via email, as well, at We will attempt to respond to questions within 24 hours.

[1] Lobbying communication is oral or written communication that expresses a view about specific legislation, and “direct lobbying” occurs when this communication is made to an individual involved in the legislative process.

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