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A New Approach to Helping Foster Diversity

Most community college educators know what it takes to recruit and retain under-served populations (hands-on activities, early outreach, success stories, role models, community events, data tracking, intrusive advising, and the list goes on). The trick is that those strategies must be employed again and again in order to deliver sustained results. But with community college staff and faculty so overloaded and budgets stretched so thin, it’s not always easy to add yet another element to an existing program. The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) will be hosting a special “Diversity Summit” event in February to try and address this challenge.

The “Diversity Summit” will attempt to replicate for attendees the success Collin College experienced with a TAACCCT Department of Labor grant consortium (separate from the National CTC) and IT Career Coaches. Using those TAACCCT grant funds, Collin College hired several Career Coaches to serve IT students and track student progress through the program. When the grant ended, grant consortium leaders were able provide data to Collin College administration that suggested students who worked with Career Coaches were twice as likely to be retained. As a result, Collin College allocated money to create three new full-time Career Coach positions. The Career Coach strategy would therefore be continued long after the TAACCCT grant funding ended. This success is one the National CTC wants to recreate elsewhere.

And so the goal of the “Diversity Summit” is to provide a forum for teams (one instructor, one administrator, and one counselor) from ten participating schools across seven states to hear best practices on recruitment and retention and then formulate a concrete action plan to take back to their school for implementation. The National CTC will provide limited stipend money to help the action plans succeed. Teams will also collect data so they can make a compelling case to their administrators and – as happened with Collin College and the Career Coaches – hopefully make the action plan a permanent, “institutionalized” strategy. Beyond the February “Diversity Summit,” each quarter, the ten teams will provide progress reports and attend webinar meetings to discuss their ongoing action plan implementation.

The National CTC is proud to welcome to the “Diversity Summit” recruiting and retention experts from across the country: Serita Acker from Clemson University; Andres Diaz from Universidad Metropolitana; Beth Quinn from NCWIT (National Center for Women and Information Technology); and Pam Silvers from A-B Technical College. These four experts will make presentations, guide hands-on workshops, and also serve as mentors for the development of the action plans. We’re hopeful that these action plans will prove to be huge successes.

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