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Racial Equity Leadership Academy meets virtually for summer session

News & Updates
July 28, 2021

Over the course of four days this week, Achieving the Dream and the USC Race and Equity Center virtually convened 10 ATD Network colleges for the Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA) Summer Session. College teams addressed problems of practice related to each institution’s racial equity change efforts, which included four main focus areas: professional development, inclusive classroom practice, hiring, and strategic action. As part of RELA, college leaders receive tools, strategies, and coaching to help them collaboratively develop bold, actionable racial equity plans for their institutions.


“As racial equity leaders and change makers, we know that there is a moral imperative to our student success work, and that community colleges — especially our Achieving the Dream colleges — must be proactive to lead forward,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

Dr. Shaun Harper, USC Race and Equity Center founder and executive director, said the academy would be transformative and have a high impact in communities.

“I know that your institutions, students, and employees will benefit from what you learn here and from the tools you are given throughout this community,” Dr. Harper said.

The inaugural cohort will serve as inspiration for future academies: “We will have a really inspiring set of 10 stories to tell about how some really committed educators and leaders at community colleges across America took on the opportunity to more deeply and rigorously embed racial equity in their work,” Dr. Harper said.

While RELA was developed before the COVID-19 pandemic, the events over the course of the last 16 months have made the work urgent, Dr. Stout said, especially around the equity gaps that persist for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous learners, as well as for student parents, first-generation, low-income, and male students. “As you examined your data, you know all too well that we have more work to do,” Dr. Stout said. “We must do more, and as members of the RELA cohort, you are answering the call.”

Over the course of the session, institution leaders heard from a range of their colleagues about what led to their race equity change efforts and how deep investigation of data, inclusive classroom practices, and other tools helped them transform their college and community.

RELA is an intensive program focused on the development of strategic, actionable racial equity change efforts that will continue throughout the upcoming academic year, Learn more about the partnership between ATD and the USC Race and Equity Center, including the participating institutions, here.

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