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Research Snapshots

How Foundations Are Responding to the U.S. Supreme Court Affirmative Action Rulings

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 2023 rulings against university policies that take race directly into account for admissions, there was concern that the changes would discourage philanthropic efforts to support racial equity. To find out how foundations are responding to the decisions, CEP surveyed and interviewed foundation leaders about their outlook and plans.
CEP Research Snapshots are brief, data-informed research reports.

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This Research Snapshot, which represents a specific moment in time — fall 2023 — when the data were collected, reveals that while most foundations were discussing the Supreme Court rulings internally, few planned to make changes, and some were, in fact, leaning into racial equity work more deeply.

A smaller percentage — more than one third — of foundations reported having had or planning to have discussions with their grantees about the implications of the Supreme Court rulings, and about three in 10 had consulted legal counsel. The data revealed a notable difference between foundations led by persons of color, which were more likely to have had internal discussions, as well as discussions with grantees and with legal counsel, about the implications of the rulings.

Data were collected on 280 foundations between September and November 2023. In addition to noting that the findings of this report represent a snapshot in time, it should be noted that the repercussions of the Supreme Court’s decision — and, indeed, of subsequent cases — are still playing out, and foundations’ responses may change over time.

CEP Research Snapshots are brief, data-informed research reports designed to answer timely, specific questions relevant to funders.

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