I am sure that others will point out why programs like this are dubious as a policy matter, so I’ll limit my comments to two legal points.
First, if this program were racially exclusive — that is, say, open only to members of “underrepresented” racial and ethnic groups — it would clearly be illegal. The Supreme Court’s University of Michigan decisions said that, if race is weighed, there must still be “individualized consideration,” and a mechanical rule that awards points based on race, let alone one that bars some students from being considered at all because of race, is not giving “individualized consideration.” The fact that the Grinnell program is open to women of all races, and first-generation college students of all races and both sexes, makes it somewhat more legally defensible — although, obviously, race still is being used quite mechanically, and there remains a host of policy objections.
Second, toward the end of the article there is a quote that invokes the “role model” justification for racial preferences. You see this all the time, which is odd, because the Supreme Court rejected this justification a long time ago, in Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986). And rightly so. As Justice Powell wrote there, “Carried to its logical extreme, the idea that black students are better off with black teachers could lead to the very system that the Court rejected in Brown v. Board of Education.”