A Publication of WTVP

Illinois Central College will work to address racial justice and equity next year, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Lumina Foundation’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The funding will be used to hire a project coordinator and trained facilitators who will lead staff, students and community members in discussions aimed at discovering racial disparities in college policies and practices. Early next year, ICC will host a two-day conference, in collaboration with Peoria Public Schools, to review current policies and prepare recommendations for implementing more equitable practices.

Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education. The organization is working toward a goal of 60 percent of working-age people in the United States with college degrees, certificates and other high-quality post-secondary credentials by 2025.

“We believe that real change will result from the removal of systemic barriers and the employment of pro-equity systems and practices,” says Dr. Rita Ali, ICC Vice President of Diversity and Community Impact. “This opportunity helps us to expand current efforts to close the achievement gap for minority students and increase their participation in high-wage, high-demand career fields.”

Based in Indianapolis, Lumina Foundation is a private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The Racial Justice and Equity Fund was created in response to the racially motivated violence that occurred at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville last year—showcasing an urgent need to improve the atmosphere around race on campuses across the country.

ICC was one of 19 higher education institutions selected for this opportunity from a pool of 312 applicants. The high number of applicants indicates the need and desire to address racial injustice and improve campus culture. “They recognize that achieving equitable results is about more than promoting diversity,” notes Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation president and CEO. “It’s about whether the institution fosters a climate in which every student feels welcome and has the same opportunity to earn a degree or certificate of value, regardless of race or ethnicity.” iBi