Virginia receives $500,000 grant to support educational advancement for minority students

NORFOLK, Va. - Virginia will receive a $500,000 educational equity grant that aims to increase educational achievement for students of color, Gov. Ralph Northam announced at Old Dominion University Wednesday.

The grant is from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation, which established a Talent, Innovation, and Equity Partnership to provide funding, research and related support to states. The Lumina Foundation aims to have 60 percent of Americans earn a credential beyond high school by 2025.

“We need to be able to identify our students, reach out to them and make sure they have access to a world-class education system so that they can be part of the 21st century workforce.”

Virginia will use the grant to help eliminate educational disparities between the overall population and African-American, Hispanic/Latinx and Native American residents.

Northam's office said in a statement that it hopes to increase graduation rates in Virginia by 5 percentage points over the next four years. The partnership also looks to improve leadership, culture and values, as well as outreach among students.

Other states have gotten the grant and Virginia's Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusions, Dr. Janice Underwood, said Virginia will examine what those other states did.

“So when we think about what they did, maybe that works for Virginia, and maybe It doesn’t," Underwood said, "We’ll take a look at the historical path the other four states took.”

"As leaders, we have the responsibility to address the systemic racism that holds people back," Northam said in a statement. "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."

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