Institutionalizing Inequity Anew: Grantmaking and Racialized Postsecondary Organizations

Heather McCambly*, Jeannette A. Colyvas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article combines theories of racialized organizations with insights on institutionalization to empirically analyze the role of grantmakers in unsettling postsecondary racial inequity. Using longitudinal data on federal grantmaking to institutions of higher education, we examine whether and how grantmaking policies (re)produce or diminish institutionalized racial inequities. To do so, we develop and apply the concept of the frame-enactment bundle—a multi-part unit of analysis—as a mechanism that either supports or challenges the (re)production of racialization. First, we ask how does a federal grantmaking agency’s frame-enactment bundle shift over time? Second, did a 2013 change to the frame-enactment bundle have a causal effect on funding in terms of the types of colleges and universities that benefit? We use archival analysis to trace the agency’s changing frame-enactment bundle over time. We then test the effects of these bundles on grant distribution using a differencein-difference-in-differences critical quantitative analysis. We find the adoption of an equity-conscious frame increased grant funding to minority-serving institutions after years of under-resourcing this organizational type. And yet, the grantmaker’s enactment of that frame created novel and more deeply institutionalized mechanisms for maintaining racialized access to resources and agency. This article exposes the deleterious trade-offs policymakers create when they center inequity in their framing, even as they create new organizational mechanisms of racialization via policy enactment. We mark this as the process of institutionalizing inequity anew.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-107
Number of pages41
JournalReview of Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022


  • critical quantitative methods
  • federal policy
  • grantmaking
  • neo-institutional theory
  • race and racialized organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Institutionalizing Inequity Anew: Grantmaking and Racialized Postsecondary Organizations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this