Thrive Scholars Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Race-Conscious Admissions

LOS ANGELES, June 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Supreme Court has ruled that colleges are no longer allowed to use race as a criterion for admissions, stripping college admissions officers of one of their most effective interventions for making their campuses the types of diverse learning institutions they know will best prepare all students for lifelong success.

Thrive Scholars, a national nonprofit that for 20 years has supported high-achieving, underrepresented students of color get into and graduate from top colleges to help them find success in careers that lead to economic mobility, believes this decision will exacerbate diversity challenges on campus, make it harder for talented students of color to achieve their dreams, hinder their sense of belonging, and send the wrong signal to students currently on campuses across the country.

“Before I was connected with Thrive Scholars, I was limited by what I was able to see and didn’t have exposure to the opportunities that were truly out there,” said Venezia Garza, a Thrive Scholar and college student in her junior year at Princeton. “Within school, I struggled to feel a sense of belonging as the goals I had for myself of pursuing higher education were out of place and foreign to most. Attending my first Summer Academy as a Thrive Scholar completely broke down the limiting perceptions of myself and introduced me to a brilliant community of students who looked like myself and had lived through similar experiences. Summer Academy prepared me with the intellectual tools I now use to find success at Princeton.”

As Justice Sotomayor references in her dissent, one main reason colleges use race as a factor in college admissions is to address the opportunity gap – the fact that while talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. Many under-resourced high schools serve student populations primarily comprised of students of color and do not provide them the opportunities they need to develop the credentials selective colleges are looking for in admissions. For example, more than half of the public high schools where Black and Latino students make up the majority of enrollment do not offer AP Calculus – a gateway course to many top selective colleges.

This understanding forms the foundation for Thrive Scholar’s programming. By providing the academic support and access to opportunity in high school that more privileged students take for granted to a broader, more diverse range of students, we help talented students develop the credentials, skills, and experiences top colleges are looking for.

“We start with our Summer Academy, an academically intensive program over two summers in the 11th and 12th grade where our Scholars attend a daily three-hour calculus class and a three-hour college writing course every day for six weeks each summer, taught by college professors on a college campus,” said Tyra Anderson-Montina, Chief Program Officer at Thrive Scholars. “The data on this intervention is overwhelming. Over 40 percent of our Scholars who participate in Thrive Scholars’ Summer Academy attend Ivy Plus colleges, with 85 percent attending the Top 50 schools.”

Students who participate in Thrive Scholars Summer Academy statistically go on to have a higher college GPA, are 10% more likely to graduate, and are 33% more likely to persist in STEM than students of all demographic backgrounds who attend their same top schools. The data is clear – these students have the talent and determination to succeed; they just need the same access to opportunity and skills building that others take for granted. 

“While the laws may change, our values will not. At Thrive Scholars, we believe high-achieving students of color belong in higher ed institutions and diverse college campuses are important,” said Steve Stein, CEO of Thrive Scholars. “We will work with our academic partners to comply with all laws as we advance our mission in this new environment. We believe our mission is more relevant and vital now than ever before and will continue to support underserved talent in their academic and career journeys.”

About Thrive Scholars

Thrive Scholars is a national nonprofit that for 20 years has worked hard to help high-achieving, underrepresented students of color from economically disadvantaged backgrounds get into and graduate from top colleges equipped to achieve their full career potential. Thrive Scholars uses data to develop programming that translates to Scholar success through a full suite of academic preparation, mentorship, social-emotional, financial, and career counseling to close the opportunity gap.

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