California Community Colleges

Dr. Estela Bensimon working with Pasadena City College during our Student Equity Plan Institute on Implementation

As open access institutions, community colleges provide open access to the majority of higher education students in the state of California, and serve as the main entry point to college for many under-served student populations like Latina/os and African-Americans. With a dynamic set of organizational structures and institutional priorities, and being highly bureaucratic and unionized institutions, community colleges are complicated organizations that vary in their capacity and willingness to achieve equitable outcomes for students of color.

At the Center for Urban Education (CUE), we believe the success of California’s 113 community colleges is key not only for graduating transfer students from 4-year institutions, but for the economic validity of the state. California is on track to be over one million bachelor’s degrees short of workforce demand by 2030. To fill this gap and the ambitious goals of President Obama and the Lumina foundation in the coming years, these colleges must address equity gaps among underperforming racial minorities – student groups that make up most of the state and the seats in its colleges. CUE works to address racial gaps within these community colleges through individual college workshops, campus-wide collaborations, or institutes devoted to the effective implementation of equity strategies.

Our research strives to make a tangible impact on student success by guiding practitioners to continually reassess their practice and frames of thinking. Using a variety of tools, we help community colleges overcome the structural, pedagogical, and institutional barriers that frequently leave students of color with lower transfer and degree completion rates. Since our founding in 1999, we’ve partnered with over seventy community colleges across the nation to help improve student success outcomes in various indicators, with the ultimate goal of closing historically rigid equity gaps.