DENVER -– The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) was selected by Lumina Foundation to join the Racial Equity for Adult Credentials in Higher Education (REACH) Collaborative, a national initiative focused on helping thousands more Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American adults earn credentials. All 13 CCCS colleges will participate in the collaborative, creating pathways from quality credentials to associates programs that embed culturally sustaining practices and sequenced student supports.
Persistent structural barriers continue to limit education and training opportunities and outcomes for adults of color. Pathways created through the REACH Collaborative will lead to quality short-term credentials that align with associate degree programs, making it possible for Black, Hispanic, Latino, and Native American adults to pursue better job prospects while continuing to progress toward a degree. Colleges will implement a holistic approach to delivering support that combines comprehensive academic, advising, and financial supports tailored to the unique needs of adult students of color. An intentional focus on weaving practices that honor and nurture students’ cultures, values, heritage, and language into each part of the student experience will ensure that the pathways are anchored in racial equity.
States were selected for their innovative, student-centered pathways efforts, supports for adult students, and demonstrated commitment to equitable student success. CCCS will increase credential completion for adult students of color by developing robust data tools to better understand barriers faced by those students and focusing student support services toward the target population. Each of the 13 colleges will apply for mini grants for their specific activities aimed at supporting adult students of color in their communities.
Community colleges participating in the collaborative will develop between four and eight academic pathways that align with in-demand career fields. Equity champions, community partners, and workforce leaders will be engaged at the state and local levels to support colleges in designing the pathways and ensuring equitable economic outcomes.
Colorado is committed to the REACH Collaborative’s goal of increasing credentials earned by Black, Latino, and Native American students, ages 25-64, enrolled at participating community colleges by two percent over the next two years.
This work will support the state’s goal of increasing the number of Coloradans who hold postsecondary credentials.
As efforts to enroll and graduate more adult students of color have intensified in recent years, deep systemic barriers in higher education have continued to stand in the way of their success. The adoption of widespread reform efforts at institutions across the country have shown some promising results in improving completion rates, but work remains to serve adults and close racial equity gaps more intentionally. Disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to widen the 17-point percentage gap between white and Black adults and further compound inequalities that have been laid bare. The REACH Collaborative will work to close the gap by expanding on pathway reform efforts in a way that acknowledges and addresses the needs and lived experiences of adult students of color.
“There is an urgent need to provide functional and equitable pathways to attainment for adults of color,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “Lumina is proud to support the REACH Collaborative, not only as a necessary effort to reach our own attainment goal but as a moral imperative. Community colleges are uniquely suited for this critical work because of their long history as diverse engines of social mobility, addressing the needs of both students and the workforce.”
Other states selected for the 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 collaborative and coordinate technical assistance for participating community colleges, system offices, and student success centers. DVP-PRAXIS LTD is serving as the learning and evaluation partner.
About Colorado Community College System
The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) is the state’s largest system of higher education and workforce development, delivering thousands of programs to over 125,000 students annually through 13 colleges and over 35 locations across Colorado. The System’s open-access mission ensures all Coloradans who aspire to enrich their lives have access to high quality, affordable higher education opportunities. The System Office provides leadership, advocacy, and support to the colleges under the direction of the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE). Join us in changing the way Colorado goes to college www.cccs.edu.