Cultural diversity and inclusivity are important strides our modern society is consistently trying to improve upon. Minority groups need a platform and resources to speak up and be heard. One of the most important roads to achieve this end goal is through education.
As more schools and universities are striving to help minority students find their footing, more and more organizations come to their help, from government groups to non-profit scholarship foundations. With their abundance, it may be hard for you to find the right one for your situation. This guide will help you determine the best resources to rely on your educational journey.
Diverse Students: Statistics and Facts
While the United States has always been a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, non-Hispanic white people represent the majority of the population, around 61% in 2016. However, as time goes by, the population of the country grows. So does its racial diversity. According to some projections, white people will stop being a majority by 2045.
Depending on the type and location of a school, the ethnic diversity of their students changes a lot. However, the need for each culture to be represented equally does not change. Cultural diversity allows people to be comfortable with people from different backgrounds. For example, it is vital for an employee at 96% of big employers.
Groups Multicultural and Diverse Students Represent
The diversity of the student population of a certain school or college reflects the diversity of society at large. There are various minority groups these students represent, and whether a certain group is represented depends on several factors, from the group’s prevalence in the specific town to how supported it is in the institution. So, while the numbers may vary, here are the most notable diverse student groups:
- African American students;
- Native American;
- Pacific Islanders;
- LGBTQ+ students;
- Students with disabilities and many more.
The Importance of Cultural Awareness in the Classroom
In a multicultural environment, students need to realize that every person comes from their cultural background and has different experiences. Cultural awareness fosters empathy and acceptance, which not only helps students to understand each other but also prepares them for a culturally diverse world around them.
However, things might not go as planned, and there is a chance of insensitive or offensive situations occurring. To avoid or reduce the tension, the professor has to maintain an inclusive classroom, engage the students and get them to engage with one another, encourage cooperation, never ignore the issues, but take a balanced approach without diminishing any side of the conflict.
Helpful Resources for Diverse Students
Throughout the history of education, multiple organizations have strived to protect minority students' rights and provide everyone with the chance to get the best education possible. Nowadays, these organizations continue to help students do their best no matter what obstacles lie on their way, find their path and voice, and become a part of the community. If you require assistance, here are just some of the resources you can use.
For African American students:
Thurgood Marshall College Fund – this organization provides scholarships to a student of its member schools, all of which are historically black colleges and universities. However, they offer much more than just money, with entrepreneurship programs, internships and mentorships, and many more;
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) – this is the country’s most widely recognized civil rights group. Through its Empowerment Program, the organization continues to champion the rights for education, social, and economic equality of all people, so this is the place to go if you see any discrimination around you;
National Pan-Hellenic Council – this organization unites 9 primarily African American student social groups – sororities and fraternities. Their primary goal is to create a sense of comradery, ensure the academic success of all members, and give back to the community;
Black Campus Ministries – if you need religious support or you want to be a part of the Christian community, this organization is right for you. With them, you can be a part of various mission activities, both on local and global levels.
For Hispanic students:
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities – this national organization consists of representatives of all the universities, where Hispanic students constitute more than 25% of all students. So, if you’re still trying to find the best place to apply to, this is the place to find the information you need;
Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) – as the first Hispanic professional organization established in 1972, ALPFA can be very helpful to you in terms of setting up your career. Furthermore, the organization offers collegial scholarships you can apply to right now;
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund – this non-profit national organization has been fighting for the rights of Latino people for decades – and they provide an easy way for you to join them by introducing the law-oriented scholarships;
National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations – if you want to be a part of the Hispanic community in the fraternity or sorority, this is where you need to apply. The organization unites over 20 social groups across the country;
Prospanica – if you become a member of this organization, you may get a chance to win a scholarship, get the tuition price reduced through a university partnership program, get a consultation on admission, and find the right career path with regular job fairs, national conferences, and networking events.
For Native American students:
American Indian Higher Education Consortium – this consortium unites 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities and various tribal and federal institutions. It helps to support the education of all tribal nations and maintain their unique voices
American Indian College Fund – fund provides great opportunities to American Indian students by providing them with massive scholarships and support to join either tribal or non-tribal colleges. Apply right away on their website, don’t miss the opportunity;
Partnership with Native Americans – this non-profit organization provides aid to Native Americans that need it the most, people that live in the most remote and extreme conditions. If you’re one of them, the organization might create an opportunity for you to get an education you deserve;
Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations – this unique organization provides support for Native American women both in their professional and personal lives. They have knowledge and resources to help women achieve whatever they want, thus strengthening the community as a whole.
For Asian Students:
Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund – founded by lawyers and activists, this group offers all the support they can give you, using law as their main tool. They fight on different fronts for justice and equal rights, especially when it concerns education;
Asian American Student Union – this student-led organization tries to stir public attention to current social problems. If you want to be an activist, there is no better way to start than to join this union;
National APIA Panhellenic Association – this is a union of 14 Asian and Pacific Islander sororities and fraternities. Become a member to join a welcoming community that strives towards success and provides various activities;
Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund – if you have a dream of higher education, but you don’t have funds for it, this is your chance. Apply for a scholarship and make your dream come true. Become one of the success stories on their website!
National Association of Asian American Professionals – this all-volunteer organization may help you take your dream even further and support you on a path to a successful career. This way you will have a better chance to give back to the community and maybe even help someone in the same position as you’re now.
For LGBTQ+ students:
Gay–Straight Alliance – this student-led community aims to create a safe space for LGBT youth and their cis-gendered allies. The movement has a long history and is now widespread throughout a country;
CenterLink – this company’s goal is to strengthen the LGBTQ+ community around it. They build great community centers, but also provide training and technical assistance to members. The company now has over 200 locations, so finding it wouldn’t be a problem.
Matthew Shepard Foundation – created from a tragic backstory, this company aims to create change around LGBT civil rights by providing a platform and amplifying the voices of the individuals. If you have a story to tell, this foundation is just for
For students with disability:
Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) – the organization aims to help people with disability to improve their education process by advocating on behalf of its members, trying to raise the effectiveness of education professionals, and make the university communities more inclusive;
DREAM (Disability Rights, Education Activism and Mentoring) – organization led by students with disabilities; this organization is based on the AHEAD platform and focuses more heavily on activism, communication, and search for social justice;
The Arc – this large community-based organization focuses on advocating for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. They work in the field of education, as well as employment, healthcare, family support, and others.
Organizations for Support of International Students
International students bring another layer of multiculturalism to the education process. Of course, they need support to adapt to the new environment and culture as well. Here are the organizations that can help them during these trying times:
National Association of Foreign Student Advisors (NAFSA) – while the organization is mainly focused around international educators and their community, they support international students as well. For example, they offer guides and sources for students that pursue an education in the US and don’t have funds for it;
American Council of Learned Societies – this council unites 75 organizations to support humanities and social sciences. They provide scholarships, promote the papers, and advocate for a central place of humanities in our modern society
Council on International Educational Exchange – this organization is solely focused on educational and intercultural exchange programs. It offers a variety of options and an abundance of new experiences and skills;
American Councils for International Education – this council works through an educational, professional, and overall cultural exchange to strengthen the ties between countries. The company has worked with over 90 countries, which ended with over 94,000 alumni;
Cultural Vistas - this non-profit company focuses its efforts on on-the-spot practical training of students. Such hands-on experience results in more productive cooperation and better preparation for the future learning process.
6 Benefits of Diversity in Education
1. Diverse Environment Challenges Stereotypes and Bursts the Filter Bubbles
No matter if we want it or not, we form certain stereotypes during our lives. Some of them can be true, while others can be wrong and even harmful. Being in a racially and culturally diverse environment will weed some of the latter ones out, as you won’t be able to maintain, for example, a racist opinion with clear evidence to the contrary in front of you.
2. Exposure to Unfamiliar Points of View
When people grow up in a different culture than you, they often have a completely different mindset and a way of thinking. This results in different points of view on the same problem, which is often a step to its solution. The exposure to unfamiliar points of view is important both in academic fields and in everyday life.
3. Students Increase Their Tolerance Capacity
Having a vague idea about a culture and encountering it face-to-face are two completely different things. And it is easier to hate the abstract idea. A diverse environment makes a person less inclined to have a violent reaction towards something they don’t understand.
4. Students Get Used to Real-World Environments
As we’ve mentioned, the level of ethnic diversity is rising in the US. This means that in our modern society people are much more likely to find themselves in a diverse environment. Getting used to it during this educational period will allow students to better adapt to a real-world situation.
5. It Increases the Cognitive Skills
While this point might not be as intuitive, research shows that the educational process in the culturally diverse setting increases students’ cognitive skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving.
6. Diverse Experience is Richer
Being surrounded by familiar things and people with the same background as you is not as interesting. Learning something new for you, being exposed to unfamiliar things and concepts, seeing the world from a different angle makes the education process richer and more memorable.
How to Find a Diverse College
More and more schools and universities are trying to boost their cultural diversity. The thing you need to pay attention to is how open and communicative the school is with social organizations and activists. It is also important to note how diverse the teaching staff is.
Some of the most diverse national universities in the country are:
- University of Hawaii;
- Andrews University;
- Rutgers University;
- University of Nevada.
Best Scholarships for Diverse and Multicultural Students
Scholarships are an excellent tool for underprivileged minority students to not end up in crippling debt and to be able to afford the education they need for their future careers. There are hundreds of scholarships, and you might be eligible for one without even knowing it. Let’s take a look at some of the best minority scholarships around:
- Ethnic Minority and Women’s Enhancement Graduate Scholarship - $10,000 to 13 female students and 13 minority students;
- Ascend Educational Fund – up to $20,000 to students born outside the US or whose both parents have been born outside the US;
- Ron Brown Scholarship - $40,000 in 4 years to a talented economically-challenged high school senior;
- Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship - $10,000 if the student plans to pursue a career in state, provincial, or local government finance;
- Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Program – up to $6,000 to ethnic minority students, who plan to become educators;
- Albert W. Dent Graduate Student Scholarship - $5,000 to a minority student in the healthcare management graduate program;
- Taiwanese American Scholarship Fund - $5,000 to students of Taiwanese descent.
How Do You Support Cultural Diversity?
To support cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity in your institution, you need to be proactive. Change won’t come from within on its own. Have an active social position, communicate with other active members of your community, entice the minority students you know to be active as well. Look for places where the change is needed and is possible, and fight for it. Help the people who suffer if you can and be mindful of other people’s experiences.