Schott Foundation Statement on Supreme Court Decision SFFA v. Harvard

Stay Steady in the Midst of Shifting Terrain: How Philanthropy Should Roll Amid Rollbacks

It is discouraging that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to undermine progress in higher education through the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University decision.

The Supreme Court’s decision – though disappointing – does not have immediate impact beyond race-conscious college admission. It therefore does not require foundations, non-profits, or organizations to adjust, reduce or stop any efforts to advance racial equity, address racial disparities, affirm identities, or ensure diversity and inclusion.  

This decision reinforces a larger historical lesson: the courts are only one part of the terrain upon which progress occurs and movements can act, grow, and win. As Justice Jackson stated in her dissenting opinion, “…deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”

College and university trustees, administrators, state policymakers and philanthropic partners should stand firm in their commitment and strategic efforts to ensure diversity in higher education.

Philanthropy as a sector must also increase support to youth, parent, family and educator-led public school advocates to redouble their efforts. Over the years, philanthropic investments in public education advocacy have decreased. Today’s Supreme Court decision clearly signals that more investments will be needed to ensure Black, Brown and Native students have access to the type of fair and equitable living and learning ecosystems that increase student success at the pre-K, elementary, and high school levels as a pathway for success in higher education.

Over the past several years, the Schott Foundation has stood with and funded grantee partners to push back against extreme legislative attacks at the state and local level to ban books and limit student learning in public schools. Collectively, as a sector, considering today’s decision, we must monitor and be prepared to target resources to push back any erroneous legislative efforts to expand the scope of this legal decision and limit efforts to advance racial equity in other spaces beyond higher education admissions.

The Schott Foundation will lean into our more than thirty-year history and experience of supporting long-term advocacy that empowers grassroots and grantee leaders to move strategically, freely and aggressively to advance racial justice and the values of a multi-racial democracy – diversity, equity and inclusion.

Though the Supreme Court decision represents a rollback in progress, Schott will continue to partner with donors and philanthropic partners to support advocates and campaigns to “roll America forward” toward a more just and fair society.