Feb 03, 2021 10:39 am

Pierce College is proud to announce our selection as one of 10 colleges from around the country to participate in the Racial Equity Leadership Academy, led by Achieving the Dream and the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center.

This intensive program is designed to support faculty and staff in the development of a bold, strategic racial equity plan to improve retention and graduation rates.

Being selected in this cohort of 10 colleges recognizes Pierce College’s ongoing efforts to actively move through self-examination and transformation to identify and directly respond to inequitable student success outcomes – such as lower graduation rates for students of color and single parents -- and to change its institutional policies and practices that contribute to those outcomes. This work is core to Pierce College’s mission, which focuses on developing opportunities for a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world.

To help lead this institutional effort, Pierce College developed an office that is central to all of the college’s work, called EDI CARES (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion -- College Access, Retention, and Engagement Services), led by Charlie Parker, District Vice President for Equity, Innovation, and Engagement.

“Anti-racism and racial equity are conditions that we have achieved when we have no areas of inequities for historically marginalized and minoritized peoples,” said Mr. Parker. “The college is committed to the learning required for us to achieve an antiracist college and to disrupt, dismantle, repair, and rebuild systems to truly center diversity, practice inclusivity, and achieve equity.”

“Achieving the Dream and our network colleges are facing an urgent call to action to address racial inequity on our campuses and in our communities. The Racial Equity Leadership Academy, delivered in partnership with the USC Race and Equity Center, will give colleges the tools needed to drive transformation that is required to meet this moment,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “We are eager to work alongside these 10 colleges as they develop a new vision for their campus equity work.”

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for the work we’ve done to examine and dismantle structures and policies that serve as barriers for racially minoritized students, and to have some of the nation’s top researchers and college leaders support our efforts to take this work to the next level,” said Pierce College Chancellor Michele Johnson, Ph.D.

With programming based on ATD’s Institutional Capacity Framework and tailored to community colleges working to overcome equity-focused challenges, RELA will take place July 26–29, 2021. College teams will work together to develop a strategic racial equity change effort that will be launched at their institution during the Fall 2021 semester.

“COVID-19 exacerbated longstanding racial inequities in higher education, and created new disparities that undermine success for community college students of color,” said Dr. Shaun R. Harper, founder and executive director of the University of Southern California Race and Equity Center. “Our partnership with Achieving the Dream will be a significant step in equipping college leaders with the knowledge and tools they need to address these challenges and other racial problems that confront their campuses.”

Participating colleges, selected through a rigorous application and review process, will develop a new vision for their campus’ racial equity work, and launch a comprehensive, prioritized action plan. The overall expected outcomes are an increase in student persistence and completion through an intentional design to eliminate structural barriers to equity.