Our Commitment Takes on A New Urgency in 2021
January 20, 2021
Dear ECMC Foundation community,
All eyes will be on Washington as Joe Biden takes the steps of the U.S. Capitol to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. Exactly two weeks ago, these same steps were overtaken by a mob of domestic extremists, incited by our own elected leaders, to overturn the rightful certification of a democratic election.
I’ve heard these outrageous acts of violence repeatedly described as “incomprehensible.” To begin to understand what happened, we must ask ourselves two questions: How did we get here? And how do we do more—and better?
The answers require us to confront the fragility of our democracy, as we saw unfold on January 6. One lens through which to examine what went wrong on Capitol Hill is the role of higher education and its inextricable link to a strong democracy.
Students enter an educational setting not only to gain knowledge and skills, but to develop habits that equip them to critically understand and participate in the consumption of information. Higher education has the potential and responsibility to close the void of morality. What we witnessed symbolizes an urgency for our higher education institutions to create an educated citizenry—citizens who can discern the truth; understand the difference between assertions supported or unsupported by facts, data, and evidence; and take ownership of the civic rights and responsibilities that come with democracy.
As a national funder committed to improving postsecondary outcomes for marginalized groups and communities, we have an obligation to prioritize investments that influence change at the system level. This month we launched the Catalyzing Transfer Initiative alongside our partners to build a more equitable pathway to higher education transfers. In a few weeks, we will celebrate CTE Month. COVID-19 reinforced how vital CTE is to our workforce: the skills needed for our frontline and essential workers—nurses, first responders, and delivery truck drivers—come from CTE.
2021 may prove an inflection point for the higher education sector. I firmly believe that democracy can triumph, so long as we all strive towards an education-centered social and economic regeneration.
In the wake of the riots on Capitol Hill, we joined our philanthropic peers to reaffirm our shared belief in the importance of finding common ground to solve problems and serve people and communities. We may not know the full depth of the challenges before us, but one thing is clear: ECMC Foundation is deeply committed to listening and expanding our understanding of the needs across underserved groups to create an education future that works for all people.
Peter J. Taylor
President, ECMC Foundation