Tech Giant Offers High School Students Race-Based Scholarships

Several Microsoft scholarship programs intended to help students pursue careers in technology are limited to applicants on the basis of race and sex, according to its website.

The programs offer high school seniors who are blackHispanic or identify as women different scholarships to go to college, according to the website. The scholarships come with varying degrees of monetary assistance and are designed for students who want to pursue a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields.

“These programs are unlawful under just about every state’s anti-discrimination laws. And although it’s not clear whether this is a part of an employment program or whether Microsoft receives federal funding, such that it can be challenged under the Civil Rights Act, it’s solid evidence of intent to discriminate on the basis of race or sex,” GianCarlo Canaparo, legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The “Women at Microsoft Scholarship” is available to students who identify “as a woman and/or as non-binary,” according to the webpage. The scholarship also encourages people who are “gender fluid” and “women of transgender experience” to apply.

The scholarships vary in amounts, up to $5,000, and are given as either a one-time payment or renewable for four years.

The company offers another scholarship called the “HOLA scholarship” for “Hispanic and Latinx communities,” according to the webpage. The scholarship offers two $20,000 scholarships distributed over 4 years and three, one-time $5,000 scholarships.

The “Blacks at Microsoft Scholarships” provides high school seniors who “demonstrate a passion for technology” with five $20,000 scholarships that is broken up over four years and 45 one-time scholarships for $2,500. The scholarship also requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and a letter of recommendation.

Race-based scholarships have come under fire from conservative legal organizations.

The Legal Insurrection Foundation’s Equal Protection Project (EPP) filed a complaint in September against two fellowships offered by Western Kentucky University specifically targeted for minorities. The EPP also sued the University of North Dakota over tuition programs “only available to non-white applicants” in November.

The Supreme Court ruled against race-based college admissions in June, saying the practice violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protections Clause.

“At this point in our national conversation we should be finding ways to reward effort and merit instead of promoting identity politics. We want well qualified scholars and employees and doctors, not a workforce designed by a DEI coordinator who only looks at appearances,” Jonathan Butcher, an education fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, told the DCNF.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

Brandon Poulter on December 19, 2023

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