Private and Corporate Foundations and Students of Color

As discussed here, we must begin to think about how to ameliorate access to higher education for students of color, especially at predominantly White institutions (PWIs), in an epoch where affirmative action is waning and completely eradicated in some places. We are going to have to be more sophisticated and comprehensive about how we improve access to higher education for students of color in a post-affirmative action society. The use of private and corporate foundations is one serious way we can increase access to higher education for students of color. These foundations have to be encouraged to significantly increase the amount of funding they devote to helping minority students to be able to afford to attend college.

Top minority leaders and supporters have to engage in serious discourses with these foundations to have them to understand the importance of their larger support for minority students. If foundations are not willing to increase their financial support for minority students, then we have to be willing to cut off our support for them. People of color contribute so much to these corporations, and they are going to need to understand how vital it is for them to give back to these minorities. If people of color are good enough to take their money when they purchase your goods and services, then they are good enough to give back to when they need your support.

Now, I very much appreciate those foundations that have a history of supporting minority students. These individuals will need the continued and augmented support of these foundations. The traditional foundations that have helped students of color in the past will not be enough. More foundations are going to have to invest significant financial support in students of color to give them the necessary funding to pursue higher education. It will be highly important for researchers, especially researchers of color, to make compelling cases for why foundations need to give significantly more to minority students and how this increased giving benefits them in meaningful ways, including greater profitability for them.

Corporations that do not have foundations should be presented with ideas for starting them and with ways to fund increased access to higher education for minority students. For minority businesses that are able, they need to dedicate more money to increased access to higher for students of color.

I am not suggesting that the aforementioned ideas are panaceas, but they are ways to generate improved access to higher education for students of color. They also let us know that we have to show up and be heard by the leaders of these private and corporate foundations. The least we can do is increase our requests for greater financial support from these foundations. If they are not willing to enhance their support for students of color, then we will have at least publicly exposed that potential reality. Let’s explore more ideas like these, instead of simply focusing on affirmative action.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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