Part 3 – Foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)
This is the third article in a series of three dedicated to professionals involved in managing scholarships and grants.
For a long time, minority students faced many challenges to access some of the best colleges and universities due to unaffordable tuition, identity-based discrimination, and unattainable requirements. While many institutions and organizations are now working hard to ensure minorities’ representation in higher education attainment, statistics show that it is yet to be equitable. There is still a long way to go.
In a previous article titled Why You Need a Scholarship Management System, which you should check out if you haven’t, inclusive and diverse recipient coverage was cited as one of the advantages of using such a system. Here is what you need to know about fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion through scholarships.
Scholarships as an Initiative for Fostering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The correct application of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) caters to the representation, participation, accommodation, and fair treatment of minorities in the various segments of the society, such as the workplace, higher education, healthcare, and governance.
Several colleges and educational institutions have recognized the benefits of offering scholarships designed to promote DEI. These scholarships provide minority students with an opportunity to excel in college and help create a more inclusive society, among other things.
There are several types of DEI scholarships. Some are awarded under that umbrella term, while others are split into individual categories to support students of specific social identities and backgrounds. In addition, some merit-based scholarships consider their minority applicants’ identities while evaluating their overall application. The most popular identity-based scholarships primarily focus on the following identities:
- Racial, ethnic, and tribal background
- Gender identity and expression (such as women in tech)
- Disability status (including mental health)
- Religious identity and affiliations
- Sexual identity and orientation (LGBTQ+ students)
- Socioeconomic status (such as first-generation college students)
- Immigration status (including refugees and undocumented immigrants)
- Military status (such as actively serving soldiers and veterans)
Benefits of offering scholarships designed to promote DEI
1. Gives minority students a fair chance to succeed
Minority students face so many barriers that limit their chances of attaining degrees and subsequently getting good jobs compared with privileged students. Identity-based scholarships can help reduce the disparity in this regard.
They help promote a more diverse and inclusive society by making higher education accessible to minority communities and helping to break down financial barriers that often prevent students from marginalized backgrounds from pursuing higher education. It then becomes an exciting circle because minority students help pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive society upon receiving higher education.
2. Helps build a more inclusive society
From the medical sector to the tech sector, the lack of appropriate minority representation and its impact has been pointed out countless times. What most people don’t realize is that the problem stems from the root. Can there be more women in STEM careers if the percentage of women with degrees in STEM fields remains low? Can members of the LGBTQ+ community be more represented in governance if the number of them with knowledge and expertise in this sector remains so little?
This is where diversity scholarships come in. With more minority students being given fair opportunity to attain higher education, the diversity of the workforce also increases because employers would be able to attract more qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds. Of course, this increase in representation stretches across all sectors.
3. Enriches the student experience
Offering scholarships to students of various backgrounds results in a diverse student body, which enriches the students’ educational experience. A diverse campus brings together students from multiple backgrounds, thereby expanding their angles on various issues and breaking their ethnocentric/egocentric viewpoints and cultural stereotypes/biases.
It also aids their social development because several of their intercultural interactions with other students would develop into mutual understandings and lifelong friendships. Beyond that, diversity in the classroom sparks creative ideas and innovations that might not have existed had the trains of thought been limited or one-dimensioned. A diverse university spells an even more significant impact on minority students. It gives them a sense of belonging and makes them feel included and valued.
4. Prepares students for the real world
According to the American Council on Education (ACE) in their board diversity statement, “education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork, and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.”
The average society of today is a multicultural one, and the same goes for the typical company or organization. Intercultural awareness and sensitivity to identity differences are required for seamless communication and conflict avoidance. Having been exposed to people of diverse identities and learning about various cultural differences thanks to their inclusive campuses, students are better equipped with knowledge of how to interact with people from all walks of life in their workplaces and other meet-points in society.
As Nelson Mandela said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” By offering diversity, equity, and inclusion-inclined scholarships, you can help bridge the inequality gap and change the world.
With DreamApply’s scholarship management system managing diversity, equity, and inclusion quotas become effortless. You should give it a try!