Southern Adventist University (SAU), a Seventh-day Adventist school in Collegedale, Tennessee, United States, received a $50,000 grant in June 2018 from Lumina Foundation’s Fund for Racial Justice and Equity. A project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the grant seeks to fund a multi-pronged project addressing racial justice and equity on campus. Project components include recording and sharing oral histories; inviting nationally recognized speakers to Southern; funding creative student-led programs; and researching the impact of all these efforts on employee and student attitudes.
“Southern has an opportunity to be a model of a large institution that weaves racial reconciliation into its DNA, even though trying to achieve this goal can be challenging,” said School of Social Work dean Kristie Wilder, one of the co-directors of the project.
From a pool of 312 applicants nationwide, SAU was one of 19 colleges and universities selected to receive funding from Lumina. The fund was created last year in response to racially motivated violence in Charlottesville on the campus of the University of Virginia.
“As a philanthropic leader, Lumina shares a deep passion and concern about the nation’s racial climate, especially on college campuses,” said Lumina Foundation president and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “These campuses have shown a willingness to address racial disparities at a systemic level. They recognize that achieving equitable results is about more than promoting diversity — 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.”
In these efforts, Wilder and the other co-directors — assistant professor of social work Stephanie Guster and School of Journalism and Communication dean Rachel Williams-Smith — have the full support of SAU’s administration.
“Each student on our diverse campus is infinitely valuable in God’s eyes, and we want them to feel that love here — to feel safe, valued, and at home,” said SAU’s president, David Smith. “This project will be another piece in our ongoing efforts to foster that kind of environment on our campus.”
Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States, that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Lumina envisions a system that is easy to navigate, delivers fair results, and meets the nation’s need for talent through a broad range of credentials. The foundation’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy.