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ACE to Launch Multi-Year Initiative to Examine Equity Gaps in Higher Education

November 08, 2017

Support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Assist Strategic Analysis of Race and Ethnicity

ACE today announced an initiative to examine gaps and progress in educational attainment for historically underrepresented student populations. The project, Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education: A Status Report, also will assess the diversity issues within the pipeline to the professoriate and postsecondary leadership.

This new effort will provide a data-informed foundation to help build the case for policies and practices that support the needs of students, faculty, and staff of color in higher education, and builds on ACE’s longstanding Minorities in Higher Education Status Report.

A $938,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support the initiative, which will be led by ACE’s Center for Policy Research and Strategy (CPRS). ACE will collaborate with RTI International, an independent not-for-profit research institute with expertise in data analysis and visualization that is dedicated to improving the human condition. The effort will be guided by an advisory committee of experts specializing in issues related to diversity, equity, economics, and public policy. Urban Institute economist Sandy Baum will chair the committee.

A cornerstone of the three-year project will be the creation of a digital platform that will serve as a launch-point to a broader conversation and portfolio of work aimed at eliminating equity gaps in higher education. The platform will allow for wide-reaching dissemination of the project’s analysis, including quarterly “snapshots” in areas of interest and information on promising practices and policies aimed at eliminating equity gaps.

In addition, the initiative will produce two written reports that will draw from a rich array of national datasets to show important short- and long-term trends, as well as the current status of educational opportunity, attainment, and post-collegiate outcomes for postsecondary students, faculty, and staff from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

“While communities of color have made tremendous educational progress over the last several decades, data show that persistent racial gaps remain, from preschool through postsecondary education, professional training, hiring, retention, and promotion,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “With this initiative, ACE aims to engage a broad community of stakeholders including campus leadership, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners who study and carry out work that seeks to advance communities of color on our nation’s college and university campuses.”

“Our goal is to provide the type of information that is required to adapt and respond to the academic and social needs of populations that are making up an increasing portion of the students on college and university campuses,” said principal investigator Lorelle Espinosa, CPRS assistant vice president. “We cannot overstate the profound need for data that is readily accessible, accurate, and timely.”

“ACE publications have long been an indispensable repository of data on educational access and success for college and university leaders, policymakers, education researchers, philanthropists, and others,” said Mellon Foundation program officer Armando I. Bengochea. “This renewed research effort will provide the scholarly community and other constituents with the data and tools necessary to develop responsive and strategic policies.”

Diversity and equity has been a central issue at ACE since its founding nearly 100 years ago. Historically, ACE has served as an advocate for diversity both within the student body and among leadership on college and university campuses. With this report, ACE aims to engage a broad community of stakeholders including campus leadership, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners who study and carry out work that seeks to advance communities of color on our nation’s college and university campuses.​

MEDIA CONTACT: Jon Riskind ▪ 202-697-0741 or 202-939-9453 ▪

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