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Posted November 9, 2005

Alfredo Padilla, Education Projects Manager (206) 240 5800


(Seattle) Today, MAVIN Foundation, in partnership with the Level Playing Field Institute, released a groundbreaking report outlining the way that U.S. colleges and universities identify their students who belong to more than one race. For over one year, MAVIN Foundation surveyed nearly 300 two and four-year institutions of higher learning to determine how they classified multiracial and multiethnic students.

Despite a 1997 Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandate, which requires federal agencies to allow Americans to “mark one or more races” on forms, the MAVIN Foundation report found that the overwhelming majority of schools (73%) do not offer multiracial students the ability to accurately identify their heritage. Only nine schools (3%) met federal standards and encoded that data faithfully.

“Without appropriate data collection and encoding methods at U.S. colleges and universities, thousands of multiracial students are being ignored”, says Alfredo Padilla, MAVIN Foundation’s Education Projects Manager, and the report’s author. Race and ethnic data are used by schools to evaluate diversity, target programs to appropriate audiences, and better meet the needs of their student body. Census 2000 marked the first time that Americans could identify as belonging to more than one race - over seven million did so. Today, in states like California, Washington and Oregon, more mixed race babies are born than any other race but Caucasian.

The release of this report, titled, “One Box Isn’t Enough: An Analysis of How U.S. Colleges and Universities Classify Mixed Heritage Students,” is the first in a series of initiatives that the MAVIN Foundation is taking to engage with educational institutions to help them better meet the unique needs of their multiracial students.

MAVIN Foundation builds healthy communities that celebrate and empower mixed heritage people and families. Since 1998, MAVIN has invested over $2.5 million into innovative and award-winning projects focused on mixed heritage people, transracial adoptees, and multiracial families. For more information, visit

The Level Playing Field Institute is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that promotes innovative approaches to fairness in higher education and workplaces by removing barriers to full participation. They have participated in and funded activist research that explores stereotyping, bias and exclusionary behaviors in the workplace. In addition, their programs bridge resource gaps for talented underrepresented students from secondary through graduate school. Visit:


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Download a PDF version
of the report, "One Box
Isn't Enough: An Analysis
of How U.S. Colleges and Universities Classify Mixed Heritage Students"