Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center 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 scrutinize and dismantle structures and policies that serve as barriers for racially minoritized students. ATD is proud to announce that applications have reopened for the Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy (RELA). The partnership between Achieving the Dream and the USC Race and Equity Center is significant and important to our continuing efforts to center equity, and especially racial equity, in our student success work. 

Teams of five individuals from ten colleges in the ATD Network will be selected to participate in the Achieving the Dream and USC Race and Equity Center Racial Equity Leadership Academy. The Kresge Foundation is providing support for eight content modules to be developed and delivered by ATD and USC Race and Equity Center staff and coaches. Academy content will be based on Achieving the Dream’s Institutional Capacity Framework and tailored to community colleges working to overcome equity-focused challenges.

Application Information

The application period closed on November 12, 2020. Selected colleges will be notified in early December and will gather at DREAM2021 for an orientation to  kick-off the work.


Each participating institution team will be comprised of the president or chancellor, an influential faculty member, a cabinet-level student affairs officer/diversity officer, and a cabinet-level academic leader (e.g. provost, vice provost).

In the Academy, college teams will:

  • Engage in eight (8) racial equity focused modules.
  • Identify a racial equity change effort to implement.
  • Be introduced to topics, frameworks, evidence-based readings, books, and practical tools on racial equity.
  • Participate in honest dialogue about racial topics.
  • Receive support from an ATD coach during one campus visit and one virtual visit over the academic year.
  • Develop a long-range vision that will guide their identified racial equity change effort.

By the end of the Academy, college teams will 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 should align with each college’s Student Success Action Plan and strategic plan. The overall expected outcomes are an increase in student persistence and completion through an intentional design to eliminate structural barriers to equity.


In the context of the Racial Equity Leadership Academy, ATD is focusing on one component of equity. ATD’s Statement on Equity approaches equity broadly and highlights the expectation that colleges dismantle structural barriers.

The USC Race and Equity Center defines racial equity as: Understanding and deliberately meeting the particular needs of specific racial and ethnic groups; achieving parity in opportunity, performance, and wellness outcomes; correcting structures, systems, cultures, and policies that (re)produce racial stress and stratification; and fostering and sustaining environments that people across all racial and ethnic groups experience as fair, affirming, and inclusive.

ATD and the USC Race and Equity Center acknowledge the intersectionality of equity work and anticipate further opportunities to explore other facets of equity in the future.



To be considered, colleges must be active in the ATD network for a period of three years or more and be in good standing. Priority will be given to Leader Colleges and Leader Colleges of Distinction.

Successful applicants will be able to demonstrate:

  • Existing organizational commitment to racial equity change work.
  • Progress in the following areas: data capacity building, student success initiative alignment with equity focused work, campus engagement in achieving student success goals with a focus on racial equity.
  • Progress on at least one priority area related to campus wide racial equity reform.


Date Activity
September 22, 2020 Application Released to ATD Network
November 12, 2020 Application Submission Deadline 5:00 p.m. ET/ 2:00 p.m. PT
December 7, 2020 Colleges Selected
February 15, 2021 Academy Orientation at DREAM 2021 
July 26-29, 2021 Summer Session at the USC Race and Equity Center (In person meeting is dependent on California and USC’s COVID policies)
August-December, 2021 First Round of Coaching Visits
December 2021 - February 2022 Second Round of Coaching Visits
February 2022 DREAM 2022 Presentation



To learn more or for any questions, please email


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