Community colleges selected by the Lumina Foundation for a national collaboration focused on creating equitable accreditation pathways for adults of color
Denver, September 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) has been selected by the Lumina Foundation to join the Racial Equity for Adult Credentials in Higher Education (REACH), a national initiative to help thousands of ‘other Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American adults graduate. All 13 CCCS colleges will participate in the collaboration, creating pathways from quality diplomas to associate’s programs that incorporate culturally sustainable practices and supports to sequenced students.
Persistent structural barriers continue to limit education and training opportunities and outcomes for adults of color. Pathways created through the REACH collaboration will lead to quality short-term degrees that align with associate degree programs, enabling Black, Hispanic, Latino and Native American adults to seek better employment prospects while at the same time continuing to progress towards a diploma. Colleges will implement a holistic approach to providing support that combines comprehensive academic, advisory and financial supports tailored to the unique needs of adult students of color. An intentional focus on weaving practices that honor and nurture the cultures, values, heritage, and language of students in every part of the student experience will ensure that the pathways are grounded in racial equity.
The states were selected for their innovative student-centered pathways efforts, their supports for mature students, and their demonstrated commitment to equitable student success. CCCS will increase graduation for mature students of color by developing robust data tools to better understand the barriers these students face and by focusing student support services on the target population. Each of the 13 colleges will apply for mini-grants for their specific activities aimed at supporting mature students of color in their communities.
Community colleges participating in the collaboration will develop between four and eight academic pathways that align with in-demand career areas. Equity champions, community partners and workforce leaders will be engaged at the national and local levels to help colleges design pathways and ensure equitable economic outcomes.
Colorado has pledged to meet REACH Collaborative’s goal of increasing credentials for Black, Latino, and Native American students, ages 25-64, enrolled at participating community colleges by 2% over the next two years.
“CCCS and our 13 colleges are committed to being a system where there is no such thing as a gap in fairness,” said CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia. “This work will support the state’s goal of increasing the number of Coloradans who hold post-secondary credentials and our own commitment to providing pathways to success for all Coloradans.
As efforts to enroll and graduate more mature students of color have intensified in recent years, deep systemic barriers in higher education have continued to hamper their success. The adoption of widespread reform efforts in institutions across the country has shown promising results in improving completion rates, but there is still work to be done to serve adults and more intentionally close racial equity gaps. . The disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to widen the 17-point percentage gap between white and black adults and deepen the inequalities that have been exposed. The REACH Collaborative will work to close the gap by expanding pathway reform efforts in a way that recognizes and responds to the needs and lived experiences of adult students of color.
“There is an urgent need to provide functional and equitable pathways to success for adults of color,” said Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “Lumina is proud to support the REACH Collaborative, not only as an effort necessary to achieve our own goal, but as a moral imperative. Community colleges are particularly well suited for this essential work because of their long history as various engines of social mobility, serving the needs of students and the workforce.
The other states selected for REACH Collaborative are [California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia]. Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois will lead the collaboration and coordinate technical assistance for community colleges, system offices and success centers of participating students. DVP-PRAXIS LTD serves as a learning and evaluation partner.
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest higher education and workforce development system, offering thousands of programs to more than 125,000 students each year at 13 colleges and 35 sites across Colorado. The system’s open access mission ensures that all Coloradians who aspire to enrich their lives have access to high quality and affordable higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy and support to colleges under the direction of the State Council for Community Colleges and Vocational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes about college www.cccs.edu.
CONTACT: CCCS Communications Meltwater (720) 858 - 2472 [email protected]