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Designing a racial equity experience for colleges in need

February 18, 2020

A new partnership gives USC Race and Equity Center opportunity to expand impact

By USC Rossier Communications

Provost Professor Shaun R. Harper and his USC Race and Equity Center are developing a racial-equity academy for community colleges.

The USC Race and Equity Center has partnered with Achieving the Dream for a major new initiative focused on improving racial equity in higher education. The partnership creates a new opportunity for colleges in the Achieving the Dream Network to participate in an intensive equity-focused institute.

Teams of four individuals from 10 colleges in the ATD Network will participate in the Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy, a program designed for teams to work together to develop a strategic racial equity change effort that will be launched at their institution during the Fall 2020 semester.

The Kresge Foundation is providing support for eight content modules to be developed and delivered by ATD and USC Race and Equity Center staff and coaches. Academy content will be based on Achieving the Dream’s Institutional Capacity Framework and tailored to community colleges working to overcome equity-focused challenges. The foundation will support teams from ten ATD Network colleges​ to participate in an intensive three-day institute in Los Angeles this summer.

“With tremendous excitement and optimism, our center and ATD developed this substantive, multidimensional strategy to improve racial equity at community colleges,” said Shaun R. Harper, a Provost Professor at USC Rossier and the executive director of the USC Race and Equity Center. “I am confident that numerous instructive and inspiring models of excellence will emerge from our collaboration.”

High-level participants

This inaugural academy will bring 40 total participants to Los Angeles for three days in July 2020. Achieving the Dream will lead the selection of the 10 colleges, all of whom must be active in the ATD Network. Each participating campus team will be composed of the president or chancellor, a highly respected faculty member, a cabinet-level student affairs officer/diversity officer, and a senior academic leader (e.g. provost, vice provost).

For nine months following the summer experience, coaches will virtually convene each individual team to check in on the progress of their change effort to help solve problems the teams have encountered and to facilitate learning across the teams they are each supporting, focusing on their date and intended outcomes. To provide support for institution-wide change, presidents will also form a special virtual affinity group, with peer exchange facilitated by ATD over this same timeframe.

“We are pleased to partner with the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center to offer this important opportunity for our colleges to center equity, specifically racial equity, in their institutional reform work,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, Achieving the Dream president and CEO. “The Kresge Foundation’s investment in this partnership will help the selected ATD colleges move into action to achieve their racial equity goals and help build ATD’s capacity to bring racial equity action planning to all our network colleges.”

Strategic racial equity change efforts may range from closing gaps in transfer rates to diversifying the faculty to better reflect the racial composition of the student body; addressing campus racial climate problems; increasing the skill of part-time and adjunct instructors to teach in culturally responsive ways; and creating ethnically diverse pipelines to senior-level administrative leadership, to name a few. Each college will identify an opportunity area in which to create its racial equity change effort, which will be officially launched on each campus shortly after the summer experience.

Teams will come together again at ATD’s annual convening, DREAM, in Orlando, Fla., in February 2021, to share their achievements and to disseminate lessons learned.

Achieving the Dream colleges in good standing will be invited to apply to participate in the Institute through a rigorous application process. The application submission deadline is March 18, 2020. Selected colleges will be notified March 27, 2020.

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