In the pursuit of a brighter future, one of the most essential pathways to success is education. Unfortunately, many in the United States face systemic barriers that hinder their journey towards post-secondary education. Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Indianapolis, has made it their mission to break down these barriers and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in higher education. Courtney Brown, the Vice President of Lumina Foundation, plays a pivotal role in realizing this vision.
Lumina Foundation envisions a nation where higher education is accessible, addresses racial injustices, and aligns with the talent needs of the country. Their goal is to create a system that not only prepares individuals for informed citizenship but also equips them for success in a global economy. Their commitment to breaking down the barriers to post-secondary education has never been more evident.
Courtney Brown, Ph.D, brings a unique perspective to her role at Lumina Foundation. Her journey in the realm of equitable education began as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher working with immigrant communities. This early experience helped her recognize the multifaceted nature of the barriers that prevent individuals from accessing education and employment opportunities. From childcare and transportation issues to the challenge of finding a degree or certificate that aligns with the current job market, these obstacles can be overwhelming for many.
The Lumina Foundation is currently working towards their ambitious goal for 2025: ensuring that 60% of Americans succeed in post-secondary education. This goal reflects their unwavering commitment to breaking down the barriers that have long hindered individuals from underserved communities, especially racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants, from accessing quality education.
To achieve their goal, Lumina Foundation focuses on three critical areas:
- Enrollment: Increasing the number of individuals who enroll in post-secondary education is crucial. This means removing financial and logistical barriers to entry and making the entire process more accessible.
- Success: It’s not just about enrolling; it’s about ensuring that students complete their education and attain the credentials that will open doors in the job market.
- Credentials that Count: Lumina Foundation recognizes the importance of aligning education with the needs of the job market. They strive to ensure that students don’t accumulate overwhelming debt pursuing degrees that may not lead to gainful employment.
Dr. Courtney Brown’s journey from ESL teacher to her current role at Lumina Foundation highlights the importance of personal commitment and aligning one’s career with a mission. Her background in linguistics, and her work with immigrant communities, laid the foundation for her passion to dismantle barriers in education.
In a message to aspiring changemakers, Dr. Brown advises staying the course, not backing down, and finding allies in the fight for equitable education. She emphasizes the importance of taking a moment to breathe, acknowledging that the journey towards breaking barriers can be challenging, but it is vital to recharge and keep pushing forward.
Education is an investment in the future. Lumina Foundation recognizes that despite the challenges, college pays off in the long run, offering people purposeful work and opportunities to contribute meaningfully to society.
As Lumina Foundation works tirelessly toward their 2025 goal, they are also looking beyond, constantly seeking innovative solutions to ensure that everyone in the United States has access to quality education and equal opportunities. The journey may be arduous, but the destination—a more equitable education system for all—is worth every effort.
By: Samantha Gutierrez, Development & Engagement Manager | Grace Bland, Marketing & Communications Manager