About this Assessment

Established in 2000, Lumina Foundation for Education’s mission is defined by a specific goal: to increase the proportion of Americans with college degrees, certificates and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Overall, NCRP’s review revealed a highly focused, effective foundation with savvy policy advocacy strategies, staff that are well respected and initiatives that are progressing ahead of schedule. However, in addition to investing in policy, Lumina also needs to boost funding and capacity to support ambitious community-based strategies, partner with community leaders and advocacy organizations that engage and represent marginalized students, solicit feedback and ideas about its strategies from stakeholders and increase grants payout.

The assessment of the Lumina Foundation was conducted by Victor Kuo.

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Key Finding and Recommendations

1. Continue strategies and practices the foundation is doing well.

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Maintain focus on clear, measureable goals and continue momentum at state and national policy levels. Remaining a thought leader will aid in realigning postsecondary education constituencies toward Goal 2025.

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2. Heed stakeholders’ concerns by boosting funding and capacity to support ambitious community-based strategies.

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Building the foundation’s knowledge, networks and capacity for community partnerships will ensure that its place-based efforts add value to existing local initiatives. Provide customized levels of technical assistance and funding to help local collaborators engage marginalized communities, build continuity and coordination among Lumina staff who work on overlapping strategies in the same cities and prioritize deep local engagement over breadth.

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3. Strengthen strategies that will effectively target beneficiary populations.

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Lumina should partner with community leaders and national advocacy organizations that engage and represent marginalized student populations to identify how grassroots campaigns can help accomplish Goal 2025.

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4. Enlist credible spokespeople to promote foundation’s goals around equitable access and educational outcomes.

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Applying effective communications strategies, including among equity-focused and targeted constituencies, will ensure that stakeholders see the foundation as a trusted partner committed to similar goals and thus are willing to align efforts accordingly.

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5. Create structured and targeted opportunities for stakeholders to inform strategy.

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Asking for input from partners and communicating how the input was used will allow for better coordination between projects and reinforce attention to long-term goals.

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6. Implement effective grantmaking practices such as increasing grants-only payout.

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To meet its ambitious goal, Lumina should increase grant payout dollars to 6 percent or more. We also recommend that the foundation provide long-term funding to support capacity and leadership development among community partners.

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