Our Approach


Employment data show that our higher education system is not equitably serving or supporting Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students. For example, in the United States, persistent systemic barriers lead to inequities so deep that Black associate degree graduates earn less than white high school graduates over their lifetime, despite their educational success. Institutions of higher education must design their approaches to address racial disparities. 

We have a responsibility to center Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students in the design of our systems and how we connect with employers and communities so that they succeed not only through college but in the workplace and beyond. Higher education’s responsibility transcends graduation to social mobility and accumulation of intergenerational wealth. Solutions must go beyond disaggregating outcomes by race. 

In our work with federal, state, and institutional leaders, we foreground the insights, perspectives, and lived experiences of Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous leaders and community members who reflect the students we seek to center. We also emphasize that it is vital that white allies share in the labor of this work because their efforts are essential to accelerating the pace of change.
Working as a collective impact network, we understand that addressing systemic racism in higher education will take a long time.. We are committed to creating long-term change and are focused on sustaining our commitment beyond the current awakening of our collective awareness of racial inequity. We encourage those who are aligned with our mission to join us in this work.

The Coalitions

The Higher Ed Equity Network’s work is organized into four coalitions that focus on the key strategies we seek to advance:

Coalition 1

We’re working to communicate a new imperative to change the focus in higher education from a focus on completion alone to a focus on completion of postsecondary credentials with value.

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Coalition 2

We’re elevating evidence-based policies that we believe to be the most powerful levers to remove barriers, open doors, and provide greater economic and social mobility for Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students. 

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Coalition 3

We’re working within systems and institutions to embrace new practices to ensure that Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students enroll and succeed in educational pathways that lead to economic and social mobility. 

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Coalition 4

We’re growing together as a network and are setting an internal learning agenda so that we can accelerate progress toward our target goals. 

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Our network workplan includes a high-level overview of the key outcomes and tasks for Coalitions 2 and 3. Coalitions 1 and 4 focus on developing cross-cutting strategies that are incorporated into the work of each coalition.

“The Network’s explicit focus on Black, Latino/a/x, and Indigenous students is so important. We’ve been tinkering around the edges for some time in higher education and knowing where the resources are most needed. Now is the time to allocate these resources where the need is the greatest so that increased college completion is no longer simply aspirational.”

- Yolanda Watson Spiva, President, Complete College America

Solving for Students’ Comprehensive Needs

Creating a more equitable system of higher education requires solving for the comprehensive needs students have concerning housing, meals, jobs, and caregiving. Through our work and partnerships, we envision a college experience that enables students to succeed in school while successfully managing responsibilities outside of the classroom.

Solutions Must Go Beyond Completion

Recognizing that hiring and wage discrimination and other discriminatory practices persist after completing a degree or credential, we are intentional about bringing in employers, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders key to workforce development to co-create solutions.