Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: February 9, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Lumina Foundation: Tracy Chen,

Virginia Selected for $725,000 Lumina Foundation Grant to Advance Equitable College Degree Attainment

Funding will support ongoing efforts across the Commonwealth to improve postsecondary success for students of color

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) was awarded a grant of $725,000 from Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation to support efforts to advance equitable postsecondary outcomes across the Commonwealth’s institutions of higher education. This Equity Institutions grant complements a $500,000 Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) Partnership grant that Virginia received from Lumina in 2019.

Governor Northam set a target of increasing educational achievement for students of color by 5 percentage points by 2024 and making Virginia the best-educated state in the nation by 2030 with 70 percent of working-age adults earning a degree or credential.

“This new funding will help Virginia further align our equity agenda with the promising efforts underway at six of our public institutions of higher education,” said Governor Northam. “The disruptive impacts of the pandemic on our education system have exposed an urgent need to address achievement gaps that have long persisted in historically underserved communities. We are grateful for our partnership with Lumina and remain steadfast in our ongoing work to build a more inclusive Commonwealth where every student has equitable access to quality, affordable postsecondary opportunities.”

The $725,000 grant will support institutions’ efforts to improve outcomes for students of color in alignment with state and local attainment goals and includes sub-grants to the following higher education entities, with funding levels indicated below.

  • Virginia Commonwealth University ($105,000)
  • George Mason University ($105,000)
  • Old Dominion University ($105,000)
  • Norfolk State University ($105,000)
  • Patrick Henry Community College ($105,000)
  • Reynolds Community College ($105,000)
  • Virginia Community College System ($45,000)
  • SCHEV ($50,000)

“Now more than ever, the work SCHEV and its institutional partners are doing is critical to eradicating unjust and unfair educational outcomes,” said Danette Howard, Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at Lumina Foundation. “By supporting increased attainment for Virginia’s African American and Hispanic populations and maintaining an ongoing commitment to equity in Virginia’s higher education community, we expect significant improvements for students of color across the Commonwealth and models of effective equity-minded practices that can be shared nationwide.”

The TIE grant supports statewide efforts to pursue improvements in four areas: leadership culture and values, equity policy and initiatives, communications and outreach, and programming to improve educational attainment. The new Equity Institutions grant will help align institution-based efforts to increase degree attainment for African American, Hispanic, and Native American students, providing direct funding to institutions that have already demonstrated a commitment to and success in closing gaps. Supported activities include creating learning communities, providing faculty development, and building infrastructure to support sustainability.

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