We start the fall with more stories about violence against Black men and women, and I’m asking myself, “When does it stop? What’s it going to take?”
It’s going to take all of us. We have to push back on narratives that this is just a policing issue. Or just a jobs or housing or education issue. It is an “all of us” issue.
That includes philanthropy. I’ve been in (and continue to be in) conversations with our partners about our role as a foundation in addressing the barriers students experience as a result of systemic racism and how we can do better in that work. These discussions have touched on what we fund within our core commitments, who we fund to do the work, and how we fund that work.
Some of those conversations have been hard, and even a little uncomfortable. But my friend and colleague Sue Desmond-Hellmann said it best in remarks she recently delivered to The Atlantic: “Comfort isn’t the point – it is the problem.”
Like the colleges and universities we support, we are committed to continuous improvement through listening, learning, and then doing. And while there are many challenges higher ed is facing right now, from campus reopening to adjusting financial models to remain sustainable, there is one issue that needs to stay at the forefront – equity.
In the coming months, I will be sharing more information about our efforts. In the meantime, I want to thank our partners for their wisdom, candor, and tireless work on behalf of today’s students.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has new data on summer 2020 enrollment, which shows gains in four-year programs and losses in two-year programs. The gaps by race are concerning, with significant declines for Black students at both the two- and four-year levels.
The Sorenson Impact Center at the University of Utah developed a dashboard to track the impact of COVID-19 on state finances, colleges and universities, and students. It focuses on implications for students of color, students from low-income background, and the institutions who serve them.
Administrators, faculty, and staff are increasingly aware of the role of race and racism in higher ed, but are often unsure about the questions to ask or actions to take, particularly when it comes to institutional policy and practice. The Center for Urban Education at USC has released new tools to help campuses define problems, explore solutions, and sustain their work.
The foundation’s Intermediaries for Scale, 13 organizations supporting institutional transformation, held a virtual gathering in August that focused on identifying and addressing systemic racism in campus policies and practices and reorienting the student experience to better reflect the needs of today’s students.
Partner Q&A: Estela Bensimon
Racial equity is a critical issue for colleges and universities to address, particularly as the COVID-19 crisis has magnified continued systemic inequities.
Dr. Estela Bensimon, founder of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, is one of the nation’s leading scholars on racial equity and has advised institutions and organizations across the nation on the issue. The Postsecondary Success team recently caught up with Dr. Bensimon and asked her to reflect on decades of experience in the field and offer practical advice to higher education leaders and practitioners.