NORFOLK—A $500,000 educational equity grant by Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation will help the Commonwealth of Virginia increase educational achievement for students of color by 5 percentage points over the next four years. Virginia is focusing on students who have traditionally been left behind, as it works toward its goal of being the best-educated state by 2030.

Governor Ralph Northam announced the Commonwealth’s selection today during an event held at the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University. Virginia joins Colorado, Oregon, and Tennessee in receiving the grant to help eliminate educational disparities between the overall population and their African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, and Native American residents. The foundation aims to have 60 percent of Americans earn a credential beyond high school by 2025.

“As leaders, we have the responsibility to address the systemic racism that holds people back,” said Governor Northam. “It’s time to take action to right the wrongs that began in Virginia 400 years ago, and this legacy continues in the form of lower educational achievement rates among students of color. This initiative with Lumina Foundation is just one way we are making tangible and measurable progress for those who are most underserved in higher education. We are grateful for the investment in Virginia. And while we know that a 5-percentage point increase is no easy task, we are up to the challenge.”

Lumina Foundation established the Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) Partnership to provide an array of funding, research, and related support to states. Virginia will use the grant to pursue improvements in four critical areas: leadership culture and values; equity policy and initiatives; communications and outreach; and programming to improve educational attainment.

To meet Lumina’s goal, states must focus on students who have been left behind. The TIE partnership is important because nationally fewer than one-third of Native Americans, Latinos, and African-Americans have earned credentials beyond a high school diploma. Lumina’s Stronger Nation digital visualization tool further highlights these unequal outcomes, including the racial and ethnic disparities in Virginia.

Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, and Tennessee are among 43 states that have set clear goals for better educating residents and Lumina highlights the network’s efforts as part of its Strategy Labs outreach to policymakers.

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