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New Racial Equity Fund Scholarship Supports the Next Generation of Professional Dancers and Choreographers

A student-led initiative in the Conservatory of Dance will ensure that dancers of diverse backgrounds can continue to thrive at Purchase and feel empowered in their community.

Established by students in the Conservatory of Dance to cultivate equity and uplift students of diverse backgrounds, the Racial Equity Group spent its first two years working to make the Purchase dance community an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Shifting its focus to the future, in early 2022 the group launched a fundraising campaign to create an endowed scholarship that would provide students from disadvantaged backgrounds with the financial support they need to become the next generation of professional dancers and choreographers.

Spearheading the endeavor were Elinor Kleber Diggs ’23 (Dance) and Kanon Sugino ’23 (Dance), co-leaders of the Racial Equity Group.

“We wanted to create an endowed fund so the money we raised could have a lasting impact on the Conservatory of Dance community,” explained Kleber Diggs. “An endowed scholarship ensures that future generations of talented dancers will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

“Access to an education in the arts has had a profound impact on us as individuals and on our peers,” added Sugino. “We both learned so much from attending Purchase College and being surrounded by this beautiful community of artists. We couldn’t have imagined how much we would grow as dancers, artists, and humans. Our time at Purchase set us up to confidently pursue a career in dance and the arts.”

With the support of Conservatory faculty, current students, nearly two dozen dance alumni from across the decades, and other donors, the Racial Equity Group set out to raise $12,500 over three months during the Spring 2022 semester. All gifts received by June 30 would be matched with funds from the J2 Scholarship Challenge Grant for Student Success to meet the $25,000 scholarship endowment threshold. A significant, last-minute donation helped the group successfully meet its fundraising goal and the Racial Equity Fund was created! The first scholarship is expected to be awarded in 2025.

“We thank everyone who joined us in this mission to promote equity and diversity in the arts and help us create a brighter future for the next generation of dancers,” said the co-leaders. “We will stay connected to Purchase College and the Conservatory of Dance community through the Racial Equity Group Scholarship. We are proud to have played a role in creating this fund and making sure it has the biggest impact on our community.​”

After graduating this spring, Kleber Diggs and Sugino spent the summer traveling and will be moving to New York City to do freelance work in dance.

To make a gift to the Racial Equity Fund, visit the secure Give to Purchase webpage, leave the dropdown menu selected on “The Purchase Fund,” and include “Racial Equity Fund Scholarship” in the “Gift Reference” field.