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Racial Equity Leadership Academy

The growing movement for racial equality has reinforced the urgency for our college leaders to be equipped with the tools they need to dismantle structures and policies that serve as barriers for racially minoritized students.

In 2020, Achieving the Dream and the USC Race and Equity Center announced the formation of the Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA). The intensive institute is designed to support teams of leaders as they develop bold, strategic racial equity plans and implement actionable change efforts at their institutions.

In February 2021, following a rigorous application and review process, ATD and the USC Race and Equity Center announced the ten colleges participating in the inaugural RELA cohort:

  • Anne Arundel Community College (Maryland)
  • Austin Community College District (Texas) | Broward College (Florida)
  • Chattanooga State Community College (Tennessee)
  • Columbus State Community College (Ohio)
  • Kingsborough Community College (New York)
  • Lee College (Texas)
  • Montgomery County Community College (Pennsylvania)
  • Mott Community College (Michigan)
  • Pierce College (Washington)

The partnership between Achieving the Dream and the USC Race and Equity Center is significant to our continuing efforts to center equity, and especially racial equity, in our student success work. During RELA, college teams:

  • Engaged in eight racial equity–focused modules
  • Identified a racial equity change effort to implement
  • Were introduced to topics, frameworks, evidence-based readings, books, and practical tools on racial equity
  • Participated in honest dialogue about racial topics
  • Received support from ATD  and USC equity coaches
  • Developed a long-range vision that will guide their identified racial equity change effort


College teams from the inaugural RELA cohort have identified a racial equity change effort, participated in coaching engagements, developed a new vision for their campus’ racial equity work, and launched the rollout of their racial equity change effort with a comprehensive, prioritized action plan. The identified effort and action plan aligned with each college’s Student Success Action Plan and strategic plan. The overall expected outcomes were to increase student persistence and completion through an intentional design to eliminate structural barriers to equity.

RELA received financial support from The Kresge Foundation and Greater Texas Foundation.

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