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RELA: Meet the Academy (Part 2)

Stories & Case Studies
March 2, 2021

Last February, at DREAM 2020, Achieving the Dream announced an initiative in partnership with the USC Race and Equity Center that aims to equip college leaders with the tools and support they need to scrutinize, address, and dismantle structural inequities on their campuses that affect racially minoritized students. The Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA) was delayed when a pandemic swept the globe and colleges rapidly prioritized the shift to remote learning

Last month, we announced the ten schools that had been selected to participate in this intensive one-year program. In this “Meet the Academy” series, we’ll hear a from the presidents or chancellors of each college about why this work is so important to their institution and what they’re eager to accomplish at RELA in the summer.

Broward College

Photo courtesy of Broward College. (Taken in February 2017.)

Who they are:
Broward College has been a member of the ATD Network for over 15 years, first joining in 2004. They have held Leader College status for a cumulative 10 years. The college works to see students reach their full potential, no matter their background, fueled by the belief that students are bound to grow even further when they have the support of a school that cares about helping them succeed.

What the president says:
“Broward College students rely on us to help them fulfill their hopes of the American dream. Our mission of ‘transforming lives’ has been focused on redefining access and breaking down the barriers students face to getting a post-secondary education. This is evidenced through our commitment to equity in all aspects of our existence: access, student success, community engagement, workforce preparation, and high-quality student learning. Our selection to participate in this inaugural cohort of the ATD and USC Racial Equity Leadership Academy is an incredible opportunity to enhance the work we have already started and move those who rely on us forward.”

– President Gregory Adam Haile

Anne Arundel Community College

Photo courtesy of Anne Arundel Community College.

Who they are:
Anne Arundel joined the ATD Network in 2010 and has been a Leader College since 2018. AACC considers itself the community’s college. About 70 percent of recent, college-bound public high school graduates in Anne Arundel County who enrolled in Maryland higher education institutions attend AACC. In addition, the college serves students with a variety of academic goals, including adults returning to college for retraining and students taking college courses while still in high school.

What the president says:
“Since 2015, AACC has intentionally centered equity in our strategic plans, focusing our college community on dismantling barriers for students of color. AACC has always prided itself on being our “community’s” college and since 1961, the heart of our mission has been responding to the ever-changing needs of our community. However, our community is not immune to racial turmoil and trauma — according to the State of Maryland’s 2019 Hate Bias Report, Anne Arundel County was second in the state for reported hate crimes and bias incidents. We know that the way forward is to remain steadfast and unrelenting, and to lead the way in combating systemic racism and eradicating structural barriers to success.”

– President Dawn Lindsay

Columbus State Community College

Photo Courtesy of Columbus State Community College

Who they are:
Columbus State Community College has been part of the ATD Network since 2012. They became a Leader College in 2015, and in 2019 earned Leader College of Distinction status. The college provides Central Ohio residents the educational opportunities they need to get to the next phase of their career.

What the president says:
“Columbus State Community College embraces the opportunity to work with ATD, the USC Race and Equity Center, and nine other colleges for what we consider the most important work we can do. Through intentional work over the last decade, with ATD as a partner, Columbus State has made strides toward closing equity gaps in key student success metrics — but we know this isn’t enough. With the most diverse student body in the region, we have witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of racial violence and the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color, both from a health and an economic standpoint. These converging crises highlight the urgent need to dismantle the frameworks of institutional racism. Community colleges can be agents of change for racial equity in the communities we serve. Columbus States stands ready to listen, learn, and lead.”

– President David Harrison


The Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA) is an intensive program offering ten college teams a collaborative experience to develop and implement bold, sustainable racial equity action plans at their institutions. Learn more.

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