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Statement by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy on Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

June 23, 2016 01:14 PM

Tuesday, June 23, 2016
Media Contact: David Egner


LANSDOWNE, Va. – Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold O. Levy issued the following statement today on the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting a challenge to race-conscious affirmative action admissions at the University of Texas at Austin:

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious affirmative action, it’s critically important that colleges and universities across our nation work to also increase economic diversity on their campuses to open their doors wider to more low-income students of all races.

As the Supreme Court said in its decision, “diversity takes many forms.”

No one knows if the narrowly drawn Supreme Court decision on the race-conscious affirmative action program at the University of Texas at Austin will apply to race-conscious affirmative action as practiced at other colleges. Should any of those programs be overturned in future rulings, efforts to increase the number of low-income students at colleges will become even more important than they are now in preserving student diversity, as has been shown in states that earlier banned race-based affirmative action.

recent report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation pointed out that a mere 3 percent of students at America’s most selective college and universities come from the 25 percent of families with the lowest incomes, while 72 percent come from the 25 percent of families with the highest incomes. The report called for colleges to address unfair and unjustified obstacles that now limit college admissions of academically qualified low-income students.

Our report found that doing this can be as effective as race-conscious affirmative action programs in increasing minority enrollment while simultaneously opening these schools to low-income students. Removing these obstacles absolutely does not lower standards. It has been repeatedly shown that students who have overcome the burdens of poverty have performed well in high school and college.


The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. It offers the largest scholarships in the U.S., comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 8th grade to graduate school. Since 2000 it has awarded about $147 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students and $90 million in grants to organizations that serve outstanding low-income students.

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