Racial Equity Advancement and Defense Initiative (READI) Resource Bank

Resources for Accessing Legal Counsel

LCCR.org – Protecting and Advancing DEI Pro Bono Initiative Intake Form

The Protecting and Advancing DEI Pro Bono Initiative, a project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was created to provide legal advice to entities concerned about their ongoing or future efforts to support DEI efforts and/or racial diversity in the wake of the recent negative U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the sister case against Harvard College. 

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SCOTUS Affirmative Action Decision and Philanthropy

Anticipated Effect of Affirmative Action Cases Before Supreme Court I Legal Defense Fund et al. I June 2023

Currently before the United States Supreme Court are two affirmative action cases brought by the same plaintiff, Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (“SFFA v. Harvard”) and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina (“SFFA v. UNC”), which have the potential of shaping admissions to higher education for years to come.


Council on Foundations Affirmative Action Memorandum

This memorandum analyzes the Supreme Court’s June 29, 2023 decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College & Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, Nos. 20-1199 & 21-707, 2023 WL 4239254 (June 29, 2023) (collectively, “SFFA”), and the potential direct or indirect impact of SFFA on foundations and other nonprofit organizations.


Its Open Season on Civil Rights. Philanthropy Must Not Retreat

As a new Supreme Court session begins today, an onslaught of lawsuits will use the affirmative-action decision to try to chip away at other rights. Donors should prepare to fight back and recommit to funding racial justice.


Supreme Court Could Set Back Philanthropy’s Racial-Diversity Efforts With Affirmative-Action Ruling

As the Supreme Court deliberates two major cases challenging affirmative action at colleges, foundations and charities are getting ready for a widespread ripple effect that could transform their work to advance racial diversity. Legal experts say the odds are that the justices will knock down at least part of the system that for decades has enabled colleges to consider race in admissions.


W.K. Kellogg Foundation I Defending Racial Equity_ The Impact of the U.S. Supreme Court Rulings on our Shared Vision

This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will release a series of rulings that are likely to have a generational impact on the work of racial equity in this country. So far, SCOTUS has upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). Rulings on a pair of cases on armative action in higher education will be issued later this month.


As the Nation Awaits a Decision in Affirmative Action Cases,
Four Key Points Stakeholders Must Consider to Ensure Educational Opportunity for All

On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two important cases involving race-conscious admissions policies: Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina and SFFA v. Harvard College. In each of these cases, SFFA challenges not only whether the universities’ policies comport with the Supreme Court’s 45-year precedent authorizing affirmative action in admissions, but whether that precedent should be overturned. The challenges have created great turmoil in the higher education community and beyond as the opposition seeks
to engender fear on matters well beyond admissions. Unfortunately, this fear is not only stoked by the opposition, but also well-intentioned yet ill-informed allies. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
| AAJC, and Legal Defense Fund have helped multiracial groups of students and alumni secure a strong voice in the courts and in the court of public opinion. Together, we have defended against
attacks by those who wish to turn back the clock on progress, opportunity, and any meaningful effort to address our nation’s awful legacy of racial discrimination.


Philanthropy.com – How the Supreme Court Ruling on Race Affects Nonprofits and Foundations

After the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on race-conscious admissions, foundations and nonprofits are debating what’s next for efforts to advance diversity through philanthropic grant making, workforce hiring, board governance, and much more.

Has the legal landscape changed for grant makers working to advance diversity? Will foundations and nonprofits be the next target for activists? Could the ruling affect talent efforts focused on advancing people of color? What are smart tactics nonprofits and foundations can use to avoid challenges, such as clarifying their equity goals to fall squarely in the zone of legally protected work? Will the Supreme Court ruling – along with other policy efforts – cause society to pull back on DEI efforts for fear of backlash? To better understand these issues and more, you’ll hear from legal experts as well as foundation and nonprofit leaders who can answer your questions and guide your work. This session is ideal for foundation and nonprofit leaders, DEI officers, and those responsible for strategic planning.

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Funder Webinar in Defense of Movement

Host Organization(s): Funders For Justice Speakers: Anita Hill, The Hollywood Commission & Brandeis University; Maya Wiley, Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, Fatima Goss Graves, National Women’s Law Center; Sumi Cho, African American Policy Forum, Theresa Younger, Ms. Foundation for Women (Moderator)

Description: Four of the nation’s leading social justice attorneys and policy advocates provide descriptions of what the SCOTUS ruling covers and what it does not cover, details about the organizations and the people who sued Harvard University and University of North Carolina, and recommendations for how philanthropy should move forward in this volatile political environment.

September 15, 2023


Webinar Briefing: Exploring Legal Perspectives in Racial Equity Lens Investing

Host Organization(s): Confluence Philanthropy Speakers: Dana Lanza, Confluence Philanthropy; Michael McAfee, PolicyLink; Bruce Campbell, Blue Dot Advocates; Keesha Gaskins-Nathan, Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Moderator)


Description: This webinar provides a briefing about the evolving legal landscape for racial equity lens investing. You will hear from a panel of legal experts and philanthropy practitioners about their interpretations of recent events and discuss how to safeguard progress in advancing DEI-focused efforts throughout the investment and philanthropic

SFFA Decision Statements from Black Foundation CEOs

Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

The Babcock Foundation is alarmed by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action. As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her dissent, “The only way out of this morass—for all of us—is to stare at racial disparity unblinkingly, and then do what evidence and experts tell us is required to level the playing field and march forward together, collectively striving to achieve true equality for all Americans.”


W.K. Kellogg Foundation

“Our founder, W.K. Kellogg, believed that education offers the greatest opportunity for generational change, and that’s why, at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we’ve spent nearly a century working with communities to build a more equitable world where every child has access to the opportunities they need to thrive. This vision for a more just and expansive future became more challenging today.”


Brooklyn Community Foundation

Today’s Supreme Court decision will roll back the progress our country has made in the fight for racial justice and educational equity. For more than 50 years, Black students and other students of color have had the opportunity through affirmative action to attend colleges and universities that prior generations were restricted from, either through racist and nepotistic admissions practices or systemic institutional barriers that segregated and prohibited educational opportunity.


Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Nicole Austin-Hillery, President and CEO, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, issued the following statement on U.S. Supreme Court Decision on the Use of Affirmative Action in Higher Education
Washington, D.C. – Today, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) expresses deep concern and profound disappointment in the US Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action as we know it in the college admissions process. This decision overturns years of precedent and undermines decades of progress made towards achieving racial equity and promoting diversity in our educational institutions, a core part of CBCF’s mission.


Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

We aspire for a community where all Fairfield County students are not only able to graduate with a high school degree but are also prepared for post-secondary education at a college or university if that is the path they choose.

To achieve this vision, it is critical to continue to increase access to post-secondary education for students who face barriers.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to disallow colleges and universities to take race into consideration as a basis in admissions is a step backwards for creating equitable access for many students in Fairfield County and nationwide who face intergenerational race-linked barriers and opportunity gaps.


Ford Foundation

The Supreme Court’s decision impedes colleges and universities from selecting their own student bodies and fully addressing systemic racial inequalities that persist. The ruling threatens to return this nation to a time when education and opportunity are reserved for a privileged class. It endangers 60 years of multiracial movements to challenge our nation to live up to the ideals enshrined in our founding documents. The decision erects new barriers to building a society in which everyone has the opportunity to improve their lives, communities, health, and education.


Grand Victoria Foundation – Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling is a Call for Unity

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action, we cannot help but express our deep frustration and disappointment. The decision underscores the urgent need to reassert our unwavering support for racial equity and justice. At Grand Victoria Foundation, we have long championed the power of education in dismantling systemic barriers and creating equal opportunities for all individuals. Our partners, who work tirelessly on the ground, consistently emphasize that race matters when it comes to educational access and outcomes.


Health Forward Foundation

Health Forward Foundation shares the concerns of many Americans following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action in higher education.

The ramifications of this ruling are significant – not only in higher education, but across many sectors that have benefitted from diverse identities and perspectives. Closest to our heart is the impact this decision will have on economic advancement for people of color, particularly across our health ecosystem, and for patients of color who have been proven to experience better outcomes when they receive care from people who look like them.


Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF)

With today’s Supreme Court decision dismantling armative action, The Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) arms its commitment to fund, support and advocate for access to higher education for deserving African American students who historically have been excluded from attending college “because of the color of their skin.” In 2003, even conservative Justice Sandra Day O’Connor upheld affirmative action as justifiable. While she opined that “25 years from now… it will no longer be necessary,” the opportunity gap persists at unacceptable levels. The median income is $45,000 for Black Americans versus $72,000 for White Americans. The unemployment rate is 10.9% for Black Americans versus 5.2% for Whites. As we continue to address systematic injustice, higher education plays a critical role in closing opportunity and achievement gaps. We take pride in serving as a premier scholarship and leadership development program, providing support that talented students deserve. Today’s Supreme Court decision is a major setback. Yet, inspired by our namesake, we will persevere in the wake of injustice and continue to work hard on behalf of a level playing field.


Kaiser Permanente Foundation

Since our founding, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. As the nation’s largest integrated health care organization serving diverse communities, we understand firsthand how race discrimination in this country creates health disparities, chronic illnesses, and shorter lifespans for many Americans. As a multiracial and multicultural health care organization, we reaffirm our commitment to equity for all.


McKnight Foundation

“Our ability to achieve a more just, creative, and abundant future for people and planet requires that we equip forthcoming generations with the knowledge, wisdom, and creativity that can only flourish when education is accessible to everyone, and our halls of education represent the richness and diversity of our country. Students having the opportunity to learn and engage each other in settings that reflect the multiracial, multifaceted society in which we live is a foundational component of a quality education.”


Mellon Foundation

Today’s distressing decision by the US Supreme Court upends more than forty years of precedent regarding affirmative action and is a profound blow to institutions of higher education and students across the nation. The Court’s decision, despite our nation’s ongoing struggles with racial injustice and inequality, shows a deep disconnect from the prejudicial reality that many experience, and have experienced, in the sphere of higher education and beyond.

This disappointing ruling further tilts access to colleges and universities toward those who already claim many social, economic, and educational advantages. It has, for years, been broadly understood that racial diversity benefits all students and accelerates higher education’s fundamental mission to foster inquiry and expand understanding. Today’s decision will result in the incalculable loss of a vibrant student body that truly reflects the dynamism of our nation.

Despite today’s ruling, the Mellon Foundation recommits to multivocality in all forms, and continues to advance its mission: to build and support creative and critical-thinking communities, always with an orientation toward justice and equity.


Meyer Foundation

“The best that can be said of the majority’s perspective is that it proceeds (ostrich-like) from the hope that preventing consideration of race will end racism. But if that is its motivation, the majority proceeds in vain.” Ketanji Brown Jackson

Like many of you, I’ve been reflecting on the Supreme Court’s majority opinion on affirmative action in college admissions this week and the powerful dissents from Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor that followed. Our work at @MeyerFoundation celebrates our shared humanity and operates under a vision for a future where everyone belongs and thrives. The very existence of our work and that of our grantee partners originates from a history of institutional and structural racism in our society at the hands of those who proved incapable of disregarding race. Race neutrality did not get us here, and it won’t move us forward. The legacy of discrimination is indeed strong. But as we’ve had to witness time and time again, the legacy of resilience and resolve of Black, indigenous, and other communities of color to fight the structures erected to oppress is much stronger. Today, I’m reflecting deeply on all the ways our community and grantee partners continue to show up and recommit to fighting the harms of racism and of so-called race neutrality by those who commit to keeping their heads buried in the sand. We will continue to support the work of our partners toward our shared vision for a community in which systemic racism and its consequences no longer exist and everyone belongs and thrives.


Schott Foundation

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.”


Southern Education Foundation

“Today’s decision is yet another sad attempt to absolve the nation of any responsibility for the continuing effects of discrimination on the basis of race.

The roots of today’s decision can be traced back to Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978, a ruling that sent us down a path of distancing ourselves from efforts to redress the damage done to African Americans by more than a century of brutally discriminatory policies following emancipation and the conclusion of the Civil War.


The Boston Foundation

Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court striking down affirmative action in college admissions flies in the face of decades of history and ignores historical evidence that affirmative action has lessened the systemic inequity of opportunity in our higher education institutions. In limiting the efforts to promote diversity in our institutions of higher education, the court’s decision threatens our progress toward a nation where opportunity is available to all.


The California Wellness Foundation

(June 29, 2023) — Today the Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down affirmative action in college admissions with a decision that creates barriers to equity in education and, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” The decision overturns more than 40 years of legal precedent and reinforces the likelihood that higher education will be a luxury – only available to a small, already-privileged group of people.

As a foundation committed to protecting and advancing people’s health, we know that wellness requires racial justice. That is why we have been a longstanding champion and significant investor in a diverse health workforce that reflects California. A diverse workforce both improves access for all to quality affordable healthcare and strengthens access to quality jobs for communities that have historically been denied such opportunities.


The George Gund Foundation

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court majority—in a landmark ruling—held that U.S. colleges and universities can no longer consider race as a basis for college admissions. As an African-American, first-generation college student, who had to overcome racism, poverty, and homelessness in pursuit of a college education and upward mobility, I am deeply appreciative and unapologetic about the fact that race played a role in my college admission process. SCOTUS got it wrong: race-based affirmative action is still very much needed to ensure equitable access to higher education and to prevent both intentional and unintentional discriminatory practices in college admissions.


The San Francisco Foundation

“Today’s decision – and how we respond to it – is not about who gets into any one college; it’s about a fair chance for everyone and providing opportunities for those who have been kept down and left behind by the laws and practices people in power created to maintain their hold on it. In this crucial moment, we must take the long view and increase our efforts to dismantle systems of oppression and advance racial equity.

“San Francisco Foundation remains committed to building a racially just and economically inclusive Bay Area. We stand with our grantees and will continue to support them and our community with all the tools available.”


Tides Foundation

Affirmative action has served as a tool to shift and strengthen power for students of color who have been historically denied access to quality education. The Supreme Court’s decision to restrict affirmative action is a devastating blow to decades of progress in the movement for racial equity and social justice.

In her dissent to the court’s majority 6-3 opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the court was “further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society.”


Women’s Fund Greater Cincinnati Foundation

To our Women’s Fund Supporters:

The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation is deeply disturbed by the Supreme Court’s decision to ban Affirmative Action, as it has significant implications for the economic self-sufficiency of women and girls. Affirmative Action has played a crucial role in addressing historical disadvantages and systemic barriers that women, particularly women of color, face in accessing education and employment opportunities.

By banning Affirmative Action, we risk further marginalizing women and girls, especially women and girls to succeed and contribute to the workforce.


Talking Points

Talking Points for The Business Community I Legal Defense Fund (PDF)

Diversity is the greatest strength of our multiracial democracy—and essential to the success of our economy.

We live in an increasingly racially diverse society. As a nation, we cannot afford to forfeit the benefits of the talents and gifts of every student and worker in our country.


A Post-Affirmative Action World Demands More Not Less Funding for Black Leaders

The end of the year is always a good time to think about what we are grateful for. In a year that saw the Supreme Court strike down affirmative action, the answer to me is clear: I am grateful for leaders of color, including Black, Latina/o, Native, Asian American-Pacific Islander, and all the intersections of identities,
including gender and sexuality, they hold and lead from.

I feel obligated to express my gratitude because in our current post-affirmative action dystopia, it can sometimes feel like standing up for Black leaders, and leaders of color more broadly, is a radical act.


Affirmative Action Lawsuits Mean Nonprofits Must Embrace Advocacy

The Supreme Court’s June decision on affirmative action
at US colleges and universities has raised profound
concerns for the nonprofit sector. As the leader of
Independent Sector, a national membership organization
for nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, I’ve heard questions from changemakers across the country about how this decision affects their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, and whether it’s a precursor to other challenges to nonprofit and philanthropic missions. These new questions demand not only our attention but also our renewed commitment to publicly advocating for the values that underpin our work.


Understanding the Supreme Court’s SFFA Decisions

Advancing Equal Employment Opportunity – LCCR

The United States Supreme Court recently decided two im- portant cases involving university admissions policies: Stu- dents for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. University of North Carolina (UNC) and SFFA v. Harvard College. In these cases, the Court held that the UNC and Harvard College affirmative action programs, which consider race as one factor of many as part of a holistic admissions process, violated the Equal Protection Clause. In so holding, the Court undermined equal opportunity by significantly paring back the circumstances in which race can be used in higher education admissions.

These cases address college admissions—nothing else. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change employment law. Although opponents of civil rights argue the contrary, employers continue to have a duty to create workplaces free from discrimination, including through efforts designed to achieve diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).


LCCR: SFFA Ruling – Implications for employment – Webinar

Webinar-LCCR: SFFA Ruling- Implications for employment

Affirming Equity. Ensuring Inclusion. Empowering Action. An Agenda for a Post-Affirmative Action World Based on the Upcoming Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)

Over the past forty years, race-based affirmative action has helped boost the admissions chances for many marginalized students. On October 31, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two major cases concerning race-based affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Given the court’s composition, it seems very likely that the justices will use the cases to ban any form of affirmative action in college admissions in the United States. The long history of racial discrimination means that race-blind (or race-neutral) admissions would allow historic discrimination — embodied in racial bias in K-12 education, income inequality, and segregation — to carry on, especially in our higher education institutions.


Ban on Affirmative Action_ Implications, Risks, and Strategies for the Charitable Sector _ Davis Wright Tremaine LLP – JDSupra

How could the Supreme Court ruling on college admissions extend past education to impact nonprofits’ race-based programs?

A pair of recent U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding college admissions standards has potentially wide-ranging implications for all nonprofit organizations that use race as a consideration in their programs. In Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina, a six-member majority of the Supreme Court held that the use of race as an independent factor in college admissions policies violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


What the SCOTUS Affirmative Action Cases Could Mean For Your DEI Work (and How to Protect It Going Forward)

On Halloween 2022, the US Supreme Court (the “Court”) heard oral arguments in two cases challenging the use of race as a factor in college admissions. The anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions (“SFFA”) brought one case against Harvard College and another against the University of North Carolina (together, the “SFFA Cases”). While the Court, in the past, has permitted limited affirmative action in college admissions, the Court’s conservative majority is eager to overturn this precedent. Most experts agree that the Court will rule that race-based affirmative action programs in higher education are unconstitutional and violate federal law, which, in turn, likely threatens diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) programs, practices, and policies far beyond higher education.


The Supreme Court Considers Affirmative Action: Arguments in the Cases Against Harvard and the University of North Carolina

On October 31, 2022, the Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases addressing admissions in higher education: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard CollegeandStudents for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina. In each case, lower courts concluded that the universities made permissible, limited use of race to promote student body diversity, in line with Supreme Court precedent holding that institutions of higher education could, in some circumstances, consider race in admissions without running afoul of the Constitution’s equal protection principles. The same petitioner asked the Court in each of the two cases to revisit and expressly overrule those previous holdings. In the alternative, the petitioner asked the Court to hold that the universities violated the constitutional rules established in existing precedent by allegedly overemphasizing race, disadvantaging Asian-American applicants, and rejecting viable race-neutral admissions procedures. This Sidebar considers the Court’s history with racial classifications, the arguments presently before the Court, potential outcomes, and considerations for Congress.


Fact Sheet – The Importance of Education and Employing a Diverse Workforce I Legal Defense Fund

This term, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue opinions in two cases seeking to end the limited consideration of race in college admissions (SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC). The Plaintiff in each of these cases is Students for Fair Admissions, a group created specifically to challenge affirmative action in college admissions. While the two cases present slightly different claims and factual scenarios, the purpose of each case is to ask the Court to overturn existing legal precedent that allows colleges and universities to use race in a limited way when making admissions decisions.


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