Center launches project to improve equity models

The initiative from the Center for Urban Education will be funded through two major new grants

By Ross Brenneman

Director Estela Mara Bensimon

Director Estela Mara Bensimon

The Center for Urban Education is embarking on a new project to bring increased equity to important aspects of higher education.

The project will bolster the center’s existing Equity Scorecard, which is used by higher education administrators to address issues that adversely affect educational outcomes for students from marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The ultimate goal is to increase the applicability and effectiveness of the scorecard.

For its new work, “An Instructional and Assessment Model for Equity-Minded Competence,” CUE has secured two major grants totaling $750,000 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Teagle Foundation.

Estela Mara Bensimon, the director of CUE and a professor of higher education, will serve as the PI for the project with CUE Associate Director Dr. Lindsey Malcom-Piqueux serving as Co-PI. Alicia C. Dowd, CUE’s former associate director and now a professor at Penn State University, will join them.

“Inequality is endemic in higher education and it will persist unless practitioners learn to become critically color conscious,” Bensimon says. “We believe that practitioners can learn to be equity minded and these grants will help us create essential instructional tools.”

The Gates Foundation grant will allow CUE to create a suite of tools to develop equity-minded competence. Building on CUE’s existing tools and experience, the project will also tap higher education’s leading scholars.

The Teagle Foundation grant will round out the project by bringing a focus on addressing challenges around developmental math, including on-site work with three Colorado community colleges.

“We suddenly find ourselves in a social and political climate that is turning away from racial justice as a national priority,” Bensimon says. “I am grateful that the BMGF and Teagle Foundations are willing to support CUE’s long-time efforts to make racial equity a matter of institutional responsibility.”

CUE will have several partners in the project as well, including the Colorado Community College System; Community College of Aurora; Aims Community College; Community College of Denver; and Front Range Community College.

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For media inquiries, please contact Ross Brenneman at rossbren@rossier.usc.edu or (213) 740-2327.