Our Vision: At College Futures Foundation, we envision a California where postsecondary education advances racial, social, and economic equity, unlocking upward mobility now and for generations to come.
In support of realizing our vision for an equitable and transformative postsecondary experience that truly meets the aspirations and needs of learners, our staff and board of directors here at College Futures engaged in a series of discussions and learning opportunities to evolve our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Our conversations over the past year started us on a path to discussing our own history as a foundation, unpacking and challenging our individual perspectives of DEI, and coming together to align on how we seek to center equity in our work with grantees and partners — and each other.
Today, we are thrilled to share what DEI means to all of us at College Futures. This statement amplifies our commitment to advancing equity and includes how we collectively define DEI. While we are excited to have shared language around DEI, we are clear that the real work is in how we lean into these definitions and how we commit to breaking cycles of complacency and expanding our thinking. It is our intention that these values guide our work moving forward and keep us accountable to becoming the organization we aspire to be — true champions for opportunity.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
At College Futures Foundation, our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is paramount to our vision for advancing a racially, socially, and economically just California where generations of learners can thrive. We are committed to explicitly and collectively centering equity and fostering environments where our grantees, partners, and staff are valued and respected. Centering equity requires all of us to wrestle with our histories. At College Futures, we are reckoning with our history as the legacy of a former student loan provider. While loans can be a critical tool for making college accessible, we also acknowledge our role in contributing to an industry that has and continues to cause life-altering debt, specifically for learners we aim now to support in achieving their educational goals as a philanthropy.
What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Mean to College Futures
Equity goes beyond fairness, acknowledging that we do not all start from the same place, and addresses structural inequalities — historic and current — that advantage some and disadvantage others. The design of California’s public and private higher education systems have and continue to reinforce inequality throughout our state. Our pursuit of social equity acknowledges this with the belief that it can be redesigned to ensure educational and life outcomes for California learners are not the result of differences in race, income, geography, and other social factors.
At College Futures, we focus on racial and economic equity.
Histories of racialized oppression perpetuated and reinforced by systemic inequities are the cause of racial disparities. The pursuit of racial equity must take place at a system level to address root causes, not just their manifestation. Our work seeks to eliminate policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce or fail to eliminate differential outcomes for learners in postsecondary education rooted in (or stemming from) racial oppression.
Economic equity is both a means and an end with respect to postsecondary education. Our work seeks to ensure learners from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds have the financial means to enroll in and complete their postsecondary educations. We believe postsecondary credentials can enable economic equity, creating paths for upward mobility and opening doors to financial stability and wealth generation that have historically been restricted to narrow segments largely divided along racial lines.
Inclusion requires establishing cultures of belonging that ensure people are welcomed, respected, and dignified. It encourages diversity in all aspects, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, creed, color, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, socio-economic status, language, culture, national origin, religion/spirituality, age, (dis)ability, military/veteran status, communication styles, and thought processes and perspectives. We seek to embody inclusivity in our decision-making process and actions and to foster inclusive and diverse environments where our grantees, partners and staff understand and find value in similarities and differences, as this is essential to advancing individual and collective learning, impact, and thriving.
We offer our sincerest gratitude to those who have helped us shape our DEI work over the last year. Thank you to the team at Equivolve Consulting, Aimée Laramore and Emily Brenner of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and members of the foundation’s DEI Work Group.