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The REACH Collaborative is focused on creating pathways designed for Black, Hispanic, and Native American adults to earn quality credentials that lead to a degree. Our goal is to ensure that many more adults of color have a clear path – free of the racial barriers that often stand in the way of their success – and the support they need to begin advancing their careers now and start to dream even bigger.

REACH Framework

The REACH Collaborative framework guides community colleges in developing pathways that embrace the unique experiences and needs of adult students of color. An introduction to the REACH Collaborative, the focus of the effort, and the three pillars that drive the work can be accessed here. Below are also links to briefs highlighting the three pillars within the framework.

Credentials to Degrees Pathway: Too often, life gets in the way of adult students, forcing them to delay or abandon their studies altogether. On top of losing valuable time and money, they have nothing to show for their hard work. Non-degree credentials offered in a sequence that leads to an associate degree give students a clear path for making short-term gains while continuing to progress toward their ultimate goal. REACH’s Credentials to Associates Pathways are focused on access to high-wage careers in growth industries and are employer verified to ensure they provide relevant professional skills. BRIEF: CREDENTIALS TO DEGREES PATHWAYS

Bundled and Sequenced Supports: Many adult students of color are managing a delicate balancing act of life responsibilities – one that could collapse at any time. Whether the issue is loss of financial resources, transportation, or childcare, finding the right help when things fall apart becomes one more hurdle. Adult students of color need proactive, holistic support that starts addressing their needs in and out of the classroom before they ever step foot in one. By combining comprehensive academic and non-academic support, like career advising, REACH colleges increase the likelihood that these students will be able to meet the demands of school and their busy lives, choose the best pathway for them, and ultimately, get where they want to go. BRIEF: BUNDLED AND SEQUENCED SUPPORTS

Culturally Sustaining Practices: The traditional college-going experience was not designed with adult students of color in mind. Inequitable policies and practices, ranging from enrollment and placement processes to access to financial aid and student services, send an unintentional message to these students that they don’t belong and are not welcome in higher education. In developing their pathways, REACH colleges are committed to planning every step of a student’s journey with a focus on racial equity. Guided by equity champions, they identify and eliminate racial barriers to success and adopt practices that embrace the cultures of adult students of color, supporting them in their chosen pathways. BRIEF: CULTURALLY SUSTAINING PRACTICES

Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) Resources:

  1. Moving Past a Check-Box Mentality: Building a Leadership Blueprint for Adult Credentials, written by Dr. Pam Eddy and Dr. Felecia Commodore, provides an inside look into Virginia’s context. Drs. Eddy and Commodore highlight key components in a leadership blueprint for change which includes individual sensemaking, a cultural audit and use of data, and courageous conversations on framing social justice and equity on campus. Promising practices from San Antonio College (TX) and Monroe Community College (NY) are featured.
  2. Dra. Susana Muñoz and Dra. Reyna Anaya authored, Moving the Needle: Are Community Colleges in Colorado Equity-Ready? In this brief, our ECCs take a look into racial equity efforts within Colorado’s Community College System and state legislature. The brief concludes by posing questions to invested communities working toward equity-informed transformational change.
  3. Dr. Luis Ponjuán expounds on his work with boards with this brief, Creating a New Agenda: How Board of Trustee Members Advance an Equity-Minded Agenda for Racial/Ethnic Minoritized Student Groups in Texas Community Colleges. Highlighting the work of the Texas Success Center, Dr. Ponjuán discusses how he has collaboratively engaged with Boards of Trustees to develop equity-minded agendas to not only create spaces for brave conversations, but also help them use an equity-minded leadership approach toward student data for organization planning and change.
  4. Titled Starting with FREEDOM IN MIND: Liberatory Guided Pathways-Moving Beyond Diversity to Racial Equity, and written by Dr. Mayra Padilla and Dr. Edward C. Bush, we get insight into the daily work of our California Equity Champion Consultants. Using the Guided Pathways model, the authors invite readers to reflect on liberatory race-conscious guided questions they developed. The authors also offer resources to help readers understand what is meant by “liberatory” of which should help generate good, deep discussions in relation to culturally sustaining practices and pathways.
  5. Dr. Mara Lazda and Dr. Michael Baston collaborated on Building Inclusive Infrastructure to Support the Success of BIPOC Adult Learners at Community Colleges with two guiding questions: What infrastructure do community colleges in NY have to support BIPOC adult learners? What are best practices for anti-racist and equity-supporting infrastructure? Examples shared in the brief include Collaborative Networks at Bronx Community College, The City University of New York; the Get Psych’D program also at Bronx CC; and the Caring Campus model. The authors conclude with three specific strategies for such an infrastructure.
  6. Dr. Denise Henning and Ivana Hanson take a look inside North Carolina’s future, focusing on the positive economic impact on investing in its community colleges titled, Investment in the Future: BIPOC/Adult Education, Skills Training, and North Carolina’s Economy.” This brief addresses both positive social and economic impacts of education and training of Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and people of color (BIPOC), as well as identifying student success programs committed to reconciling racial inequities, as North Carolina works to make its workforce career-ready by acknowledging its racial wealth and earnings disparities.
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