2021 Pivot Graduation

Racial Justice

Georgetown has a special role to play in confronting issues of racial injustice, both as a university—and as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.

We are deeply engaged in these pursuits, studying the role of race in society, nurturing a community that recognizes and rejects racism, calling attention to disparities, and building a more just and equitable world. We are pursuing a path of memorialization and reconciliation, seeking to understand and respond to the university’s role in the injustice of slavery and the legacies of enslavement and segregation in our nation.

There is urgent work Georgetown can and must do, and there are efforts underway all across campus. By investing in these programs—proven initiatives addressing disparities in mass incarceration, education, health, and more—we will advance this ambition and amplify its impact.

Our distinctive strengths

Universities are uniquely equipped to explore and rethink inequities in our social, political, economic, and moral structures. Georgetown’s mission and Jesuit tradition further calls us to take a leadership role:

  • We engage in the work of formation—a commitment that not only helps us understand our individual beliefs and biases but also compels us to confront discrimination experienced by people of color in their daily lives, as those experiences are external blocks to their own flourishing.
  • We pursue the truth, using our knowledge-building resources to expose constructs in our world that do not recognize the inherent dignity of each person.
  • We advance the common good, making a difference in our communities and upholding our shared responsibilities for civic life.

Investing in interdisciplinary, cross-campus collaboration and leadership

Georgetown in February 2021 announced the establishment of its university-wide Racial Justice Institute (RJI), an interdisciplinary, cross-campus hub where scholars, activists, and thought leaders will collaborate to address racial inequities within our society.

The university also introduced three faculty members who will lead the institute’s work in health, law, and performing arts across the main, medical, and law campuses. Georgetown looks forward to completing the Institute’s leadership team with a fourth faculty member focused on public policy.

The RJI will strengthen the work taking place on all of our campuses, engaging students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are leading related efforts, and building on initiatives that address racial disparities here in Washington, D.C. Investing in the RJI will enable us to more fully recognize the contributions and experiences of the Black community—at Georgetown, and around the world—as central to our history and future.

Diversifying the policy leadership pipeline

To build a just and equitable society, we also must ensure that our nation’s policymakers, civic leaders, and public servants are representative of the communities they shape. In 2019, Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy became the sole academic home of the National Urban Fellows, a 50-year-old program that strengthens the pipeline of diverse leaders by preparing mid-career professionals to be change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors.

Fellows—who are primarily students of color, women, and first-generation college graduates—earn a Master of Policy Management and complete a hands-on leadership residency at a partner organization.

Philanthropic support will ensure that we can cover tuition costs for future cohorts of fellows, shrinking the financial barriers to public service careers.

A Testimonial

lisa rawlings

“If we are committed to building a just and equitable society, it is essential that policymakers, civic leaders, and public servants are representative of the communities disproportionately impacted by public policy.”

—Lisa Rawlings, president and CEO of the National Urban Fellows

Forging medical-legal partnerships to advance health equity

Established in 2016, Georgetown University’s Health Justice Alliance (HJA) is teaching the next generation of health, law, and policy leaders how to work across disciplines to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations.

Working side-by-side at the Health Justice Alliance Law Clinic, Georgetown’s aspiring doctors, health professionals, and lawyers learn how the social determinants of health affect patients in the real world. Through HJA, they see how medical-legal partnerships—an innovative model that addresses non-medical barriers to health by adding lawyers to the treatment team—can facilitate advocacy and solutions.

HJA combines the strengths of Georgetown’s law, medical, nursing, and public policy schools and is uniquely positioned to advance health equity at the national level. Philanthropy will enable the alliance to share its best-practice model and expand its programmatic offerings to meet growing student demand.

Responding to the consequences of mass incarceration

With millions of people in correctional facilities across the U.S., mass incarceration has become a moral, political, and economic crisis with devastating effects. Through the Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI), Georgetown studies and responds to the consequences of mass incarceration in four main ways:

  • Higher education in prisons: PJI’s Prison Scholars Program offers credit-bearing college-level courses, taught by Georgetown faculty, at the D.C. Jail. It is the nation’s only program of its kind offering mixed-gender classes. PJI also is launching its first full degree program at a Maryland prison.
  • Professional development for returning citizens: Through the Pivot Program (highlighted below), returning citizens earn a certificate in business and entrepreneurship and gain work experience at D.C.-area organizations.
  • Engagement and dialogue: PJI brings together students, scholars, policymakers, activists, and justice-involved individuals to engage with incarceration-related issues.
  • Student-led advocacy: Undergraduate students in the Making an Exoneree class become champions for wrongfully convicted people—and have contributed to multiple exonerations.

Expanding opportunities for returning citizens

Numerous bipartisan initiatives are leading to reduced sentences and earlier releases, making this a critical time to build productive pathways for re-entry. The Pivot Program—developed jointly by PJI and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business—marshals our university’s resources in business education and relationships across Washington, D.C., to help returning citizens create sustainable livelihoods.

Participants in the nine-month program earn a certificate in business and entrepreneurship, and complete internships at D.C.-area organizations. Many graduate with job offers; others focus on launching businesses or continuing their education. The program doesn’t just benefit returning citizens; it allows Georgetown students and faculty to engage with a critical need and helps address local labor shortages in the D.C. business community.

We seek to grow the Pivot Program and ensure participants have the financial support needed to meet their basic needs while completing their credential. We have a unique opportunity—not only to contribute to our D.C. community but also to create a best practice model for other university-sponsored transition programs.

Support this work

Donor support will be essential as we work to realize these opportunities and translate Georgetown’s unique strengths into a more just, equitable world.

To learn more or to contribute to these priorities, please contact us at giving@georgetown.edu.