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This review examines the impact of future goals on motivation and learning in multicultural classrooms. Across cultures, schooling is a future-oriented investment. Studies of minority students' school achievement have advanced future goals as a crucial protective factor in the face of frequent school failure. At the same time, cultural discontinuities and limited opportunities in minority students' school careers may weaken the motivational force of the future. Our review of the seemingly contradictory evidence on the role of the future in minority students' school achievement calls for a more fine-grained motivational theory of the future. Specifically, converging findings support conceptual distinctions (a) between positive and negative perceptions of the instrumentality of school tasks for future goals, and (b) between internal and external regulation of classroom behaviour by future goals. Thus, positive instrumentality and internal regulation enhance intrinsic motivation and adaptive learning in multicultural classrooms. We conclude that the motivational force of future goals can be generalized to minority students and that it depends crucially on perceived instrumentality and internal regulation.