Dec 4, 2020 | NEWS | By April Kwan | Photo by Patil Khakhamian

Colorado College recently joined the Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance. The new alliance will provide a connection between colleges and universities to learn together about progressing racial equity in small liberal arts institutions that have been historically predominantly white.

The College also received a $575,000 grant from the Sachs Foundation, which will assist Black students pursuing the field of education. The Sachs Foundation has provided numerous scholarships to support education for students who meet the given criteria.

These actions are a part of Colorado College’s Antiracism Initiative, which states that CC will act in “a collegewide effort to actively examine and oppose the ways that racism exists and persists at CC.”

“With antiracism central to our mission, our faculty, staff, and students will experience greater equity and inclusion, our teaching will be more impactful, and our students will be better prepared to make positive change in the world,” reads the general statement from the college that begins CC’s Antiracism Initiative.

The Liberal Arts Colleges Racial Equity Leadership Alliance is a part of the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center and sets the goal to improve racial equity in higher education. Colorado College joins 51 other colleges and universities in this alliance: this collaborative effort will allow for collective action to be taken in higher education.

Starting January 2021, virtual events for professional development will happen once a month. These virtual events, called eConvenings, will be led by tenured professors that study race relations. Though topics will vary, all will pertain to racial equity with special attention to incidents on predominantly white liberal arts college campuses. 

Each three-hour-long eConvening will be interactive and will include strategies to lead actionable equity initiatives. Staff will be supplied with tools and resources to apply back on CC’s campus.

According to Senior Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Butler Center, Rosalie Rodriguez, “It’s an excellent way for us to continue our work … learn from what everyone else is doing and connect to other folks who are doing this work, whether formally or informally.” She commended how collaboration with other colleges allows for “learning from what’s working well on [other] campuses and what things to try on [our] campus, or what didn’t work well.”   

The $575,000 Sachs Foundation grant supports Black students in the education field through summer fellowships, academic-year internships, and scholarships. Two of the scholarships will go towards CC’s graduate program, Master of Arts in Teaching.

The goal of this grant is to provide more opportunity for Black students who meet academic and financial standards and are residents of Colorado, as well as to increase the number of Black teachers in Colorado. After completing this program, students are eligible for a financial supplement to their educator income for three years.

Colorado College will join the 73 other academic institutions that currently benefit from the Sachs Foundation, whose individual beneficiaries include 176 undergraduate students and 21 graduate students.

These initiatives show a promising commitment to pursuing equity on campus. But after a tumultuous roll out of the anti-racism plan, how will the college continue to work with students and address campus culture?

Speaking to this issue, Rodriguez noted, “What we’re trying to do in antiracism efforts is to change the whole culture, and you can’t do that by simply writing strategic plans … this is everyone’s work across campus to build capacity for everyone.”

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