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Lumina Foundation Grant

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Massachusetts College of Art and Design awarded Lumina Foundation Grant to Dismantle Systemic Barriers to Student Success

Thursday, September 17, 2020 — Massachusetts College of Art and Design has been awarded $100,000 in funding from the Lumina Foundation’s Equity Institution grant to dismantle systemic barriers to student success and degree attainment, particularly for Black and Latinx students. MassArt is one of six public community colleges and universities to receive funding as a subgrant through the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, which received $1.2 million in funding from Lumina. MassArt is working in partnership with the Commonwealth and community partners in support of the equity vision adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) in December 2018.

“Massachusetts has been a leader in offering access to higher education since MassArt was founded in 1873 as the country’s first freestanding public college of art and design,” said Dr. Kymberly Pinder, Acting President of MassArt. “We are grateful to the Department of Higher Education for its commitment to equity, particularly during this critical time, and we are honored to receive funding from the Lumina Foundation. We look forward to working with our state colleagues to remove the obstacles our students currently face, to enable them to reach their full potential and claim the bright futures they deserve.”

The Lumina Foundation grant funds will support MassArt’s Artward Bound program (a free four-year college access program for 9-12th graders) and Compass program (mentoring program for first-generation undergraduate students), and will fund new programs and initiatives at the College through its Office of Justice, Equity and Transformation (JET).

  • Faculty and Staff Professional Development – In 2020 the JET office delivered a series of workshops called Thriving Classrooms to 60 MassArt faculty and staff members. The goal is for all faculty and staff to participate in these workshops, which address issues of supporting first generation students, inclusive facilitation and pedagogy, undoing racism, decolonizing design, trauma informed classrooms and active bystander training. Also, in response to the rise in anti-Asian discrimination amid the COVID-19 public health crisis, the department will also expand its community outreach initiatives and support for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) members.
  • Rising Sophomore Program – This new program will support students of color when they enter their majors in their sophomore year — a time when completion rates of learners of color often drop. Program coordinators will facilitate online workshops, peer mentoring and collaborations between different support offices to give students a strong foundation in their majors. The program begins this fall with a cohort from a small group of majors, with the goal of all academic areas participating by 2025.
  • Artward Bound/Compass Counseling and Wellness Community Liaison – This new position liaises with staff from both programs to explore ways to alleviate the traumatic impact of prior oppressive learning experiences. This staff member will address disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to students of color and support them so they are not further marginalized.
  • Artward Bound/Compass Curriculum Liaison – This existing staff position will be further developed to fully align the curriculum and continuity between the Artward Bound and Compass programs. This person will support the transition of six Artward Bound alumni enrolling as MassArt students in the Compass program this fall.

In 2018 MassArt launched its current five year strategic plan, which identifies the College’s responsibility to become a “student ready campus” as a way of closing the completion gap and recruiting more students from underserved populations. MassArt’s graduation rate at 73% is higher than the national average, yet racial and gender disparities remain with a 26% discrepancy between white women and Latinx men and a 20% discrepancy between Black students and all other students.

“Upholding MassArt’s public mission through accessible pathways to art and design education in the Artward Bound and Compass programs takes on an even greater significance in the midst of our global health pandemic and the current civil rights movement,” said Dr. Lyssa Palu-ay, Dean of the Office of Justice, Equity and Transformation at MassArt.

Both Artward Bound and Compass serve a majority of learners of color. One hundred percent of Artward Bound students graduate from high school, 97% enroll in a college and 20 Artward Bound graduates are currently enrolled at MassArt. MassArt has improved the progression of learners of color by expanding the Compass program from one to four years of support, yet the current COVID-19 public health crisis has made students more vulnerable.


About MassArt

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) is a public, independent institution that prepares artists, designers, and educators to shape communities, economies, and cultures for the common good. Since 1873, MassArt has built a legacy of leadership as the first freestanding public college of art and design in the country, and the nation’s first art school to grant a degree. MassArt offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate degrees in art, design, and art education, taught by world-class faculty. 

About Lumina Foundation

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. The foundation 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. Lumina’s goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy.

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