The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education Receives $250,000 Grant from the Lumina Foundation to Explore Perceptions of Postsecondary Credentials among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Learners

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, the research arm of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), announced today that it had received a transformative $250,000 grant from Lumina Foundation.

This generous grant will empower the Pell Institute to embark on a groundbreaking research project to explore the perceptions of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners regarding the value of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees and other post-high school credentials. The Pell Institute will conduct the research in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley.

The research aims to shed light on the unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners face in pursuing higher ed credentials. With its longstanding commitment to comprehensive research and analysis, the Pell Institute will delve into the complex factors that influence how individuals from these communities perceive the value of credentials across different types of institutions.

Terry Vaughan III, vice president of research at COE and director of the Pell Institute, expressed sincere gratitude for Lumina’s support, stating, “We are honored and thrilled to receive this significant grant because the research funding will enable us to deepen our understanding of the factors that shape the perceptions of post-high school credentials among Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners. By uncovering invaluable insights, we can contribute to the broader conversation on equitable access and success in higher education.”

Maureen Hoyler, president of COE, highlighted the significance of this collaboration, stating, “We are excited to partner with Lumina on this vital research endeavor. If we know more about what students of color see as valuable in college attainment, colleges will have valuable insights to improve the enrollment and graduation of students from these groups.”

This innovative research project represents a significant step toward eliminating the educational disparities Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners face. Data from Lumina’s A Stronger Nation database shows that among individuals between the ages of 25-64, only 34.2% of African Americans, 27.8% of Hispanics, and 25.4% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives attained a postsecondary credential, as compared to 50.2% of whites, based on 2021 population statistics.

The Pell Institute and COE are deeply committed to utilizing the knowledge gained from this project to support post-high school credential attainment rates and ensure that all students have equal access to quality education, regardless of their background.

The research conducted by the Pell Institute will culminate in a comprehensive report highlighting findings from the study. The report will also serve as a valuable resource for policymakers, educators, researchers, and stakeholders in the education community, providing them with actionable insights to enhance access, equity, and success in higher education.

In addition to the report, the Pell Institute plans to host a webinar presentation to share the key findings with a broader audience. The webinar aims to foster meaningful dialogue and inspire collaborative efforts among policymakers, educators, and stakeholders to create a more equitable postsecondary education landscape for all learners.

For more information about the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, please visit


About the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education: 

The Pell Institute is a renowned research center focused on bringing clarity to questions of equity to advance knowledge on educational opportunity, equity, and attainment in postsecondary education. The Institute conducts in-depth research, analysis, and policy development to inform policymakers, educators, and stakeholders about effective strategies for promoting educational access and success for first-generation and low-income students.

About the Council for Opportunity in Education: 

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization established in 1981, dedicated to expanding college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities. Through its myriad membership services, the Council works with colleges, universities, and agencies that host federal TRIO programs that help more than 800,000 low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services.

About the Lumina Foundation:

Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis 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 talent needs through a broad range of credentials. Lumina aims to prepare people for informed citizenship and success in a global economy.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview, please contact Terrance L. Hamm, associate vice president of communications and marketing at the Council for Opportunity in Education via email at [email protected] or call (202) 347-7430.

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