Multi-Day ATD Workshop Helps 14 NC Community Colleges Address Systemic Equity Challenges

ATD's Virtual First Multi-Day Workshop: Systemic Equity Challenges

In mid June, over 80 individuals from 14 community colleges in North Carolina participated in Achieving the Dream’s (ATD) first virtual multi-day workshop focused on addressing systemic equity challenges. Mixing presentations, one-on-one consultations with ATD experts, facilitated peer feedback, and full group discussion, the workshop focused on helping college teams develop actionable next steps to address an equity challenge impacting their institution. Colleges focused on issues that included:

  • developing equitable practices and policies for virtual learning and support
  • create a plan for progressing racial equity that includes increased empathy and understanding of responsibility
  • reducing high withdrawal rates among African American students and Pell recipients
  • improve college-wide awareness of the reality of their students’ lives, particularly related to microaggressions and basic needs
  • closing equity gaps in key performance indicators

The workshop kicked off with a two-hour webinar where ATD discussed equity as a systemic challenge and facilitated discussion among participants of the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on these challenges. Highlights from this session included ATD staff discussing what we can learn from policy and process changes colleges have been forced to take during the spring semester and how our attitudes and culture reinforce systems that hold equity gaps in place.

Each college team nominated a facilitator to be trained by ATD responsible for facilitating conversations and helping their team complete activities that worked the team through a logical process for identifying opportunities and next steps.

On day two, the colleges focused on deeper engagement to identify and address systemic causes of inequity at their colleges. Each team had the opportunity to consult and collaborate with ATD experts in equity, holistic student supports, and teaching and learning. During these sessions, teams learned about promising practices from other ATD colleges and were connected to critical resources and tools.

The final day of the workshop leveraged the expertise of the 80+ attendees through facilitated peer feedback and sharing opportunities. Participants spent the morning making connections with other North Carolina colleges, leveraging peer expertise to gather feedback on their equity challenge, and confirming next steps their team would take.

Highlights from the three-day virtual engagement included the mix of opportunities to gather input from ATD experts and peers, dedicated team time, and increased urgency around this important work. Feedback from 92 percent of respondents indicated that their team left with tangible next steps for addressing equity challenges on their campus while 100 percent of participants felt they had a clearer understanding of equity as a result of the workshop.

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