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According to a research published by the Pell Institute, students from low-income families are less likely to attend college and have lower graduation rates compared to their wealthier peers. This only means one thing: the American Dream needs a little tune-up, and it begins with me and you!

Think about it: quality education should be like that delicious apple pie cooling on grandma's windowsill – something everyone gets to enjoy, not just folks with a silver spoon. But right now, the recipe for success seems to favor those with fancy ingredients.

Although the system of higher education has evolved over the years, a sore thumb that continues to stick out is the lack of inclusion and equal opportunities for all students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds. In some cases, this lack of inclusion is intentional and programmed to deny members of certain groups equal access to learning opportunities, and in some other cases, it is triggered by a lack of awareness. However, the consequences are far-reaching and detrimental to the society at large.

So, how exactly can we address this problem together and create lasting change that will level the playing field and ensure every student has the opportunity to succeed?

In this article, we'll discuss the importance of equitable and inclusive learning and highlight some of the steps you can take as a stakeholder and advocate to champion this cause.

Features of Equitable Higher Education Ecosystems

There are lots of misconceptions about the qualities of equitable higher education ecosystems and how they operate. However, the predominant feature of any equitable education system is the recognition of student diversity, where every student's belief is respected and catered to. This culture of diversity helps to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion in our classrooms and communities.

Beyond identifying student similarities and differences, an inclusive educational system also adopts curriculums and assessment methods that reflect the diversity of every student. This way, it remains culturally relevant and responsive to every student's reality, even when faced with the challenges of standardized testing and curriculum requirements. Keep reading to discover other key features of an inclusive educational system.

Innovation and Continuous Improvement

This quality describes a system that is willing to evolve by seeking feedback from students and stakeholders. Besides its commitment to delivering quality education, an equitable higher education ecosystem strives to experiment with available data and adapt to emerging trends.

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Personalized Learner-oriented Learning

Equitable educational ecosystems strive to meet each student at their point of need. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach is thrown out the window. Instead, each student is provided with unique learning pathways specially tailored to their strengths and aspirations. It also provides room for student engagement and provides them with support from qualified mentors and consultants.

Benefits of Equitable Higher Education Ecosystems

Over the years, HBCUs have proven that many of the societal challenges we face can be conquered by fostering a more inclusive educational ecosystem. Here at PROPEL, we believe in the potential of every student, and we're happy to provide helpful resources on career development, scholarship opportunities, and upcoming networking events specifically designed for the success of HBCU students.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of equitable higher education ecosystems.

Increased Sustainable Development

Recent studies show that 87% of HBCU alumni secured employment within a year of graduation. You can imagine the impact of such a remarkable achievement on the economy and society at large if only we can replicate and expand access to this kind of high-impact learning environment for all students. By fostering a more inclusive learning system, students are better equipped with the skills they need to succeed in their professional careers, leading to a more robust workforce, increased innovation, and a more equitable society.

Elimination of Stereotypes

By recognizing diversity and adopting an individual-oriented approach to learning, equitable higher education ecosystems expose the lies behind stereotypes and help targets confront their fears. When students are able to learn and grow side by side, regardless of their background and identity, then there's no limit to what they can achieve.

Increased Societal Inclusion

The effects of inclusive learning ecosystems go beyond the school system. By fostering more acceptance and inclusion, students learn to recognize diversity. This knowledge equips them with the social skills required to treat other individuals with more empathy and respect.

Steps to Building Equitable Higher Education Ecosystems

The task of building and maintaining inclusive educational systems might seem challenging at first, but the rewards are immeasurable. At Propel Center, we believe that every student deserves the opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that empowers them to reach their full potential. This is why we're dedicated to providing resources, fostering collaboration, and advocating for equitable practices that ensure all learners have the opportunity to succeed.

Here are proven steps that many HBCUs have used to foster a culture of inclusivity and excellence over the years.

Set Clear Goals

Most advocates for equitable higher education ecosystems tend to lose steam in the long run. Most times, it is due to a lack of clearly defined goals and strategies for sustainable progress. It's crucial to establish concrete objectives, efficient methodologies, and consistent monitoring mechanisms to ensure ongoing momentum and effectiveness in advocating for equitable higher education ecosystems.

Clearly list out what you wish to achieve. This way, you'll find it easier to share your ideas with relevant stakeholders and partners. It'll also help you focus your efforts better and keep you on track.

Evaluate the Current Situation

Next, assess the current reality on the ground. This way, you'll better assess the effort required and develop well-informed strategies. You can start off by asking the following questions:

  • Are there existing features and qualities that align with your goals?
  • Can these features be improved to deliver the required results?
  • What deficiencies need urgent attention?
  • Are there existing bodies making any effort to address the current situation?
  • What is the attitude of the relevant stakeholders to the issues at hand?

The answers to these questions will help identify critical areas that require urgent attention as well as any existing strengths you can leverage.


Create an Action Plan

By this point, you've got a full grasp of the challenges you're up against as well as existing strengths you can put to your advantage.

Now, you've got to develop a clear plan to actualize the goals you've set. This plan must be well structured and contain milestones that will help you evaluate your progress.

Working with a clear plan helps you take stock of your wins and convince stakeholders to get on board.

Involve Stakeholders

Building sustainable higher education ecosystems requires a collective effort. Your personal drive and conviction won't be enough to deliver the expected goals. However, getting more like-minded hands on board will ease the process and yield more results in good time.

You can reach out to relevant stakeholders via social media and other means. Consider attending or hosting workshops and seminars to share your vision and plans with other individuals. Also, look out for other people who share a similar vision and build stronger networks that will yield the results you seek.

Provide open channels for stakeholders to make their input and offer feedback as you progress. However, you'll need to be open to suggestions and even criticism from stakeholders.

Leverage any Advantage You Have

With time, you'll have actionable results you can share with stakeholders. Put them to your advantage.

At some point, you might require funding and other forms of support to get the job done. Don't hesitate to leverage what you've achieved when seeking more stakeholder involvement or stronger networks.

Also, feel free to reach out to alumni members and involve them in student workshops. This way, you can connect stakeholders with real-life examples of what you seek to achieve.


HFFA Participants

Carl S. Moore

PHD, Consultant