EMERGE's Response to Supreme Court Ruling
Growing up in Houston’s Third Ward, an elite college education seemed out of reach for Michael Brown until his GPA, test scores, and impressive resume earned him full-ride scholarships to 20 highly selective colleges. He graduated with honors from Stanford University and is now a business partner in space and presentation for Target.
Yemile Bazaldua Flores did not speak English when she immigrated from Mexico at age 11. Now she’s a Harvard University graduate and is building a successful career in healthcare.
As the second youngest of six children raised by a single mom, De’Vonte Parker became the first in his family to graduate from college when he walked the stage at Cornell University. He’s now a marketing analyst at Dell.
It's students like these exceptional EMERGE alumni who are likely to be the most affected by today's Supreme Court ruling. This ruling does not come as a surprise. However it does intensify the urgency for EMERGE to forge stronger partnerships with colleges and universities committed to fostering an inclusive and dynamic educational community that embraces individuals from many different backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences.
While we cannot know for sure how today’s decision will affect the college admissions landscape, we know that Black and Latino student enrollment fell precipitously in Michigan and California after race-conscious admissions practices were outlawed there. At the University of Michigan, for example, the percentage of Black students fell from seven percent in 2006 to four percent in 2021. At the University of California, Los Angeles, it dropped from seven percent to less than four percent in the first two years. Those numbers have since risen to five percent but remain far below enrollment rates seen more than a quarter-century ago.
The prospect of similar far-reaching consequences underscores the critical importance of our collaborative efforts in cultivating vibrant, transformative, and enriching student bodies that reflect the diversity that makes our nation great.
The stark reality is only three percent of students at the top-ranked colleges and universities in the United States come from families in the lowest income bracket, according to a study by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. In fact, the most prestigious institutions enrolled more students from families in the top one percent of all income earners than from the entire bottom 50 percent combined, the Equality of Opportunity Project found. With this Supreme Court ruling, these statistics will undoubtedly decline without the help of programs like EMERGE.
EMERGE has always served as a beacon of support for exceptional students who have gained admission to selective universities based on their merits and outstanding achievements. We firmly believe that our students belong on these college campuses and that their contributions enrich the educational landscape for all. That’s why we hold firmly to these core truths:
Our work is vital. Students attending top colleges derive benefits that change their life trajectory. Because of this, we will continue to do what we’ve always done and help high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds navigate a complex and sometimes daunting college application process, thereby earning admissions as a competitive applicant.
Our students bring differences and diversity of thought, opinion, culture, and lived experiences to colleges across this nation. This makes the campus community richer for both them and others. Everyone benefits.
The students that we serve deserve to be a part of the student body of the best colleges in this nation. We strongly believe in our students and their merits. We believe they have the intellectual prowess and talent to thrive anywhere. This is a message we will reinforce in the coming months with our students. EMERGE is committed to dispelling myths that would suggest otherwise.
Colleges that we work with see the value that our students bring and want them. Today’s decision makes it even more important for us to partner more intentionally with colleges to ensure that the best and brightest students can continue to achieve and graduate at similar rates to their more affluent peers.
Our 800+ alumni, many of whom are pursuing advanced degrees or are employed by prestigious companies like IBM, Facebook, Deloitte, The New York Times, and Goldman Sachs, are a testimony to the life-changing impact EMERGE has not just on our students but their families and communities as well.
While the Supreme Court's decision may dominate headlines and public discourse, our energies and efforts are channeled into empowering students and supporting them to and through college. This decision signals a new day in the college application landscape, and we have an opportunity to be seen as a critical partner in this changing environment. EMERGE has the ability to fill the gaps and pick up the slack as universities face limitations in terms of the programs and activities they can employ to support students.
Now more than ever we need the support of our community to ensure economic mobility is within reach for all. Together, we can embrace the transformative power of education and empower students to shape their own destinies, transcend limitations, and create a brighter future for themselves and future generations.