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Statewide Higher Ed Convening Recap

What we shared, learned, and planned together at our Statewide Higher-Ed Convening

We’re grateful to the nearly 200 folks who came out to the U of M on June 16th for our joyful, connecting, and proactive Race Equity In Higher Ed Convening.

Policymakers; higher-ed leaders, staff, and faculty;  students; and race equity advocates and researchers from across the state gathered from 9am to 2pm to share knowledge, experiences, and best practices for advancing race equity and excellence for students who are people of color and Indigenous (POCI) in Minnesota’s higher-ed systems.

It was a morning and afternoon filled with great food and meaningful conversations and connections.

For us at MnEEP, we are invigorated by your work, ideas, and meaningful insights and contributions. And we are grateful for this opportunity to gather, celebrate, and honor one another as we work together to build a more racially just higher education system in Minnesota.

What was shared 

“It’s about basic human needs.”

MnEEP’s keynote panelists shared their deep expertise and personal experiences and what it means to center race equity in building policies and practices that center the goals, needs, and assets of POCI students.

The panelists detailed ways our higher-ed systems must be designed to meet students where they are, from honoring POCI students’ language, culture, and ways of knowing and learning, to building holistic student supports that address the critical needs of today’s POCI students, who are more likely to be from lower incomes; English Learners; working; transfer students; parents; and facing houselessness and food insecurity.

Common refrains among the panelists were:

“It’s about basic student needs. You have to treat this as a crisis. We have to understand the reality of today’s students. We have to act with intentionality and urgency to disrupt the current system and build something better now.”

We’re grateful to our keynote panelists for sharing their wisdom and expertise and they work they do every day to build racial justice in education.

Dennis Olson; Commissioner of Minnesota Office of Higher Education

Sam Parmekar; Committee Administrator at the Minnesota Senate

Minerva Muñoz; Dean for Institutional Equity at Macalester College

Carly Duran-Marrero; CASA SOL Graduate Advisor Higher Education

Ronald Ferguson; Ph.D.; Professor of Sociology at Ridgewater College

What was learned

Culturally Validating Pedagogy: MnEEP’s latest research report

MnEEP Senior Director of Research, Dr. Rev Hillstrom, shared details and insights from MnEEP’s just-released report, 2023 State of Students of Color and American Indian Students Report. 

The report details five case studies using the CLEAR Solutions Framework to demonstrate the effectiveness of centering Culturally Validating Pedagogy and Leadership (CVP/L) in delivering educational experiences for POCI students.

“What is the purpose of education?” Dr. Hillstrom asked the room of 125 attendees. “What is the purpose of education to marginalized students?” he posed.

The questions generated essential insights and conversations about what it means to build policies and practices that center the humanity of each student–providing them with the tools they need to support their talents and self-agency and to build a future centered in equity, democracy, and opportunity for all people.

Data: What it calls us to do

Attendees learned about current data trends in college retention and graduation rates for POCI students, and the need to act with urgency to increase college access and retention for POCI students.

By 2026 people of color and Native Americans will be the majority of MN populations ages 14 to 29.

“If we do not increase college enrollment and completion for students of color and Native American students, Minnesota will not have the workers our economy needs,” said Megan Rozowski, Director of Research and Policy Development at Minnesota Private College Council. Megan also serves on MnEEP’s Board and as co-chair of MnEEP’s College Race Equity Advocacy Advisory Council (CREAAC).

Sharing & building best practices

Attendees also gathered in small groups to discuss:

1. What practices they are engaging in to increase racial equity at their college or institution?

2. What challenges exist in building and advancing best practices for increasing college retention and graduation for POCI students?

3. In what ways can the state or higher-ed institutions invest in and support new policies and practices for improving higher-ed outcomes for POCI students?

What’s next

Collaborating for transformative change 

We hope you will join us as we continue to connect and build meaningful relationships and best practices for race equity in higher ed.

It is through these connections, convenings, and collaborations that we are building our Race Equity in Higher Ed Toolkit, an action plan advocating for and implementing key policies and practices that support racially equitable outcomes in higher ed.

This toolkit is a collaborative process centering best practices for advancing racial equity in higher ed, and we hope you will use it in our work together.

Currently, we are using a race equity lens to shape, inform, and advocate for key policy reforms we know are needed right now.

1. Financial aid reform

Minnesota’s financial-aid formula was designed when Minnesota was a much whiter, middle-class state. It’s critical we work to redesign our financial aid model to center the goals and needs of POCI students.

2. Anti-racist practices

Minnesota’s colleges must do the work to build anti-racist policies and practices in every area—from leadership positions to public narratives.

3. Holistic student supports

Minnesota must redesign the student experience at all levels to support working students, first-generation students, and students of color and Indigenous students.

4. Developmental ed reform

Minnesota must reassess its antiquated and racist developmental ed standards and testing requirements to increase college access, retention, and degree attainment for POCI students.

Take action now

You and your higher-ed institution can take action now in a number of ways:

1. Sign the Race Equity in Higher Ed Compact

Join a growing group of higher-ed leaders and colleges and higher-ed institutions across Minnesota making an intentional, ongoing commitment to transform Minnesota’s higher-ed institutions to be racially just, culturally responsive, and accessible for Minnesota’s students of color and Indigenous students. Sign now. 

2. Check out or Take Action page for more ways to get involved. 

Learn more about CREAAC; how you can get involved or become a CREAAC or MnEEP member; and ways we can, together, continue to build, shape, inform, and advance key policies and practices for a racially just higher-ed system in Minnesota.

Join us!
MnEEP Staff

Led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) thought leaders and experts, MnEEP uses a race equity lens to develop and advance networks, practices, research, and policies to dismantle racism in education and build a more just, equitable society.

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