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California’s Community Colleges Partner with USC Against Racism

A new alliance between more than 50 community colleges and the USC Race and Equity Center will use three-pronged approach to improve equity in higher education

A new initiative from the USC Race and Equity Center will bring together leaders from California’s community colleges to address issues related to race and racism.

The California Community College Equity Leadership Alliance will use a three-pronged approach to help administrators and faculty leaders learn how to better address the concerns of students and employees of color, who have long cited the persistence of racist policies and attitudes within their institutions.

In the aftermath of mass, nationwide protests following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, students across the country have pressed their schools and universities to take tangible actions that improve the education of Black students.

"Merely proclaiming in written statements that Black Lives Matter is insufficient," says USC Rossier School of Education Professor Shaun Harper, who leads the USC Race and Equity Center and created the Alliance. "I am grateful to the presidents who responded favorably to my invitation to take serious, strategic action to dismantle systemic racism, address longstanding racial climate problems and eliminate racial inequities on their campuses."

To date, more than 50 community colleges, including all nine in the Los Angeles Community College District, have joined the Alliance. California’s community colleges are responsible for the education of more than 1.2 million students each year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The Alliance will use the following approach for member institutions:

  • Professional learning: Beginning in June 2020, the Center will annually host a dozen eConvenings, each on a particular aspect of racial equity. These high-quality professional learning experiences for high-level administrators and faculty leaders will be held virtually throughout the year, one per month. Each eConvening will explore strategies and practical approaches for equity issues.
  • Virtual racial equity resource portal: The Center is developing an online repository of resources and tools for Alliance member colleges. Downloadable equity-related rubrics, readings, case studies, videos, slide decks, and conversation scripts will be included in the portal and accessible to all employees at member colleges.
  • Campus climate surveys: Using the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates (NACCC) as a model, the students, faculty and staff of each member institution will be surveyed about their feelings of belonging and inclusion, encounters with racism on campus, the frequency and depth of cross-cultural interactions, appraisals of institutional commitment to diversity and inclusion, and other related topics.

"Tremendous strategy, intentionality and expertise went into the creation of this Alliance," said Compton College President Keith Curry. "I am convinced it will make every campus that participates more equitable and inclusive."

ABOUT THE USC ROSSIER SCHOOL OF EDUCATION: The mission of the USC Rossier School of Education is to prepare leaders to achieve educational equity through research, policy and practice. USC Rossier draws on innovative thinking and collaborative research to improve learning opportunities and outcomes, address disparities and solve the most intractable problems in education.

ABOUT THE USC RACE AND EQUITY CENTER: Illuminating, disrupting and dismantling racism in all its forms is the mission of the USC Race and Equity Center. We do this through rigorous interdisciplinary research, high-quality professional learning experiences, the production and wide dissemination of useful tools, trustworthy consultations and strategy advising, and substantive partnerships. While race and ethnicity are at the epicenter of our work, we also value their intersectionality with other identities, and therefore aim to advance equity for all persons experiencing marginalization.

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Ross Brenneman, rossbren@rossier.usc.edu