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Achieving the Dream releases Equity Toolkit to institute the most promising practices in improving equity in nation’s community colleges

News & Updates
October 11, 2023

At a time when the nation is becoming more diverse and colleges and the communities they serve have struggled to close equity gaps in educational outcomes and post-completion earning power, Achieving the Dream continues its leadership in student success reform with a new resource to help institutions take strategic action to close these gaps. 

The Equity Toolkit: A Research-Based Guide to Operationalizing Equity brings together lessons from research and Achieving the Dream’s two decades of experience working with community colleges to create more equitable institutions and help more students complete college and find careers that pay family-sustaining wages. The toolkit provides comprehensive research, tools, and resources to help college teams design and operationalize equity-centered approaches to all aspects of the college’s work as well as provides lessons learned from ATD Network colleges that have successfully increased student outcomes and eliminated equity gaps. 

“Our colleges will only be as successful as the success of our most marginalized students,” ATD president and CEO Dr. Karen A Stout said. “Centering students and their lived experiences in the design of our policies and practices will support more students to success and begin to address the inequitable design of our colleges and our inequitable outcomes. This is important work, consistent with our history and mission, for community colleges, who are local engines of prosperity for students, their families, and the communities they serve.”  

Download the Equity Toolkit

The Equity Toolkit is a practical tool that helps ATD Network colleges do what they do best — introduce comprehensive changes integrated across all aspects of the institution based on analysis and data. “Our work always begins with — and is continually renewed by — data-informed institutional self-assessments that put unexamined perspectives, practices and processes to the test,” said Dr. Stout.  

“The toolkit presents examples from ATD colleges and network initiatives that are making progress in improving student outcomes by placing equity — and the needs of students — at the center,” said Dr. Monica Parrish Trent, ATD’s chief program and network officer. “The toolkit leads us on the road typically not taken that institutions have begun to blaze to ensure the success of their racially minoritized and economically marginalized students.” 

“We recognize that institutions are all at different points on their student success and equity journeys and are operating in various contexts with differing capacities,” said Francesca I. Carpenter, ATD’s director of equity initiatives. “We took this into consideration by noting that the toolkit is not meant as a linear process: institutions can use the guide to focus on the equity areas and student success opportunities that are their biggest priorities given their local situation.” 

The Equity Toolkit and principles provide a framework and set of resources designed to identify and redress systemic practices that breed inequities. ATD will be supporting colleges as they work to implement the principles outlined in the toolkit with ongoing coaching, peer-networking and various learning events.  

“There is no quick fix for the post-secondary inequities in student outcomes that our nation continues to face, but we must ensure that community colleges continue to be leaders in the effort to ensure that the design of our colleges does not replicate those inequities,” Dr. Stout said. 

Download the Equity Toolkit
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