The Partnership for College Completion (PCC) was launched in 2016 in response to disparities in enrollment between students from low-income households and students of color and their wealthier peers in Illinois and persisting and widening racial and socioeconomic disparities in college completion.
PCC’s report Unequal Opportunity, substantiated the need for a change agent from the outside to champion policies and practices that would increase equity in college access and success in Illinois.
A Snapshot of Illinois Outcome Data
- Degree attainment by Black (7%) and Latinx (29.1%) students lags behind overall attainment rates (54.9%) and that of White students (61.9%).
- The disparities are particularly troubling at the state’s community colleges where just 5% of Black students and 29.3% of Latinx students earn their Associates Degree compared with 40% of White students.
- Meanwhile, The Education Trust has given Illinois’ 4-year institutions a C- minus for its efforts enrolling a proportional representation of Black and Latinx students.
Now five years since its launch PCC has helped usher transformation into the environment for which it was founded. Today, there is more discussion about equity and completion and at a more nuanced level. A community of institutional leaders and practitioners committed to ensuring equitable student outcomes continues to grow. And increasingly, lawmakers are centering equity and the complex needs of college students in the policies they introduce and champion. These are exciting and needed developments but significant work remains ahead.
While the steps toward achieving an equitable future for Illinois through transformation of its higher education system are fewer than they were in 2016, entrenched interests that fail to prioritize students persist, and but so too does the Partnership. With generous support from PCC’s funders, a supportive board of directors, and key institutional, legislative, and organizational partners critical to making PCC’s vision for equity actionable, we continue to press toward justice. At PCC, our focus is on solutions that ensure every Illinois student as equitable access to college education at an institution supportive of their academic and career plans.
The Partnership for College Completion (PCC) envisions a state where equitable opportunities to access and complete a college education lead to greater degree attainment, racial equity, and socioeconomic mobility for Illinoisans.
We champion policies, practices and systems that increase college completion and eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income, first generation, and students of color in Illinois – particularly Black and Latinx students.
The following is a brief history of PCC.
SYSTEMWIDE IMPLEMENTATION OF DERA
September 1, 2021
With financial support from Ascendium, PCC launches work to support the implementation of the Development Education Reform Act. In partnership with the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB), the state-level coordinating body for the state’s 48 community colleges, this grant will aid in building the capacity of Illinois community colleges to implement corequisite remedial reform on their campuses. PCC hopes to accomplish this by educating institutions about the DERA legislation, cultivating a cohort of faculty reform champions, and supporting the creation of institution-wide developmental education reform plans.
5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
August 3, 2021
PCC celebrates five years advocating for greater equity in Illinois’ higher education system.
PCC’S NEW LEADERSHIP
August 1, 2021
PCC’S Managing Director Lisa Castillo Richmond succeeds Dr. Kyle Westbrook, Founding Executive Director of the Partnership as its next Executive Director.
2021 Catalyst Grants
July 14, 2021
PCC disburses $228,000 to 19 ILEA partner colleges. Each institution was awarded a $12,000 grant to advance an equity effort on their campus based on their recently released Equity Plans.
Policy Quarterly Newsletter Launched
March 16, 2021
To drive home PCC’s belief that public policy plays a critical role in increasing equity and positively impacting the education outcomes of the tens of thousands of black, brown, and low-income college students in Illinois, PCC launched a new quarterly policy publication in the form of a newsletter to provide stakeholders with up-to-date information on state and federal higher education policy.
PASSAGE OF SB 815
June 1, 2021
PCC, in partnership with Advance Illinois, Women Employed, Young Invincibles and the Illinois Higher Education Network work with Leader Kimberly Lightford and Representative Carol Ammons to pass SB 815 in both chambers of the Illinois legislature. The bill creates the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding, and marks a critical step towards Illinois providing more equitable higher education funding of its public universities.
STUDENT ADVOCATE BOARD LAUNCHES
January 22, 2021
PCC launches the Student Advocate Board to provide an opportunity for Illinois students to weigh in directly on advocacy efforts for an equitable funding model for Illinois’ public universities. The board is composed of Illinois college students that provide feedback and direction at key milestones of PCC’s equity funding campaign.
2021-2025 STRATEGIC PLAN RELEASED
January 13, 2021
The PCC Board of Directors approves the organization’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. The plan calls for an expansion of PCC’s mission and a refresh of the organization’s three-pronged approach to addressing racial and socioeconomic equity in college degree completion in Illinois.
PASSAGE OF HB 2170
January 11, 2021
HB 2170 aimed at reversing centuries of systemic racism in education, birth-to-career, passes both chambers of the Illinois legislature. PCC and policy partner Women Employed worked with Leader Kimberly Lightford and Representative Carol Ammons on the bill, considered the education pillar of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ (ILBC) historic racial justice centered policy agenda. HB 2170 includes several policies that dismantle barriers to Black student success in higher education including Article 100, which creates the Developmental Education Reform Act.
All ILEA institutions are sharing data through the NSC PDP
Through the Postsecondary Data Partnership, 26 ILEA institutions have access to dashboards that provide disaggregated data both historically and from year to year. These dashboards empower ILEA institutions with more comprehensive data, easier analysis and better visual representations to help understand, improve, and communicate student momentum, outcomes and equity. Building data capacity across ILEA institutions helps to ensure a continuous culture of improvement, redirecting resources as needed based on leading indicators of success and moving student equity strategies to scale.
PCC RELEASES REPORT: EQUITY IN APPROPRIATIONS
November 10, 2020
When the COVID-19 crisis struck, it swiftly exposed the inequities underlying higher education in Illinois, highlighting access and affordability as challenges that persist for low-income students and students of color. With the support of The Joyce Foundation, PCC releases Higher Education Appropriations: A Framework for Equity in Illinois to examine Illinois’ disinvestment and underfunding of higher education during past fiscal crises while offering lawmakers a set of recommendations for a more equitable playbook for how they fund public colleges and universities.
ILEA FALL SUMMIT GOES VIRTUAL
October 21-23, 2020
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, PCC transformed its one-day, in-person ILEA convening to a virtual three-day Summit. The multi-day online conference marked the highest participation of ILEA partners, with more than 350 faculty, staff, and administrators attending the Summit focused on “Engaging Faculty Champions in Equity Work.”
2020 ILEA EQUITY PLANS PUBLIC RELEASE
August 15, 2020
A years-long development process culminates with 22 ILEA member institutions publicly releasing campus-based plans to eliminate racial and socioeconomic completion disparities. The development of each plan was spearheaded by a dynamic group of cross-departmental and cross-functional campus leaders. ILEA partners will implement a wide range of institutional strategies found in their Equity Plans to eliminate inequities in degree completion.
PCC LAUNCHES NEW WEBSITE: ILLINOIS COLLEGES FORWARD (ILCF)
August 10, 2020
With financial support from the Steans Family Foundation & Origami Works Foundation, PCC develops and launches Illinois Colleges Forward (ILCF), an online information hub dedicated to providing regularly-updated content related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on college-going across the state.
EQUITY ACADEMY FOR PRESIDENTS AND CABINETS LAUNCHES IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
July 15, 2020
PCC, together with the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, launches a one-year Equity Academy in for college and university presidents and their cabinets to support the implementation of their Equity Plans and overall institutional reform efforts as part of ILEA. The inaugural Equity Academy included college presidents and cabinet members from 11 ILEA partner institutions.
IL HIGHER ED MATTERS CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES
May 11-15, 2020
In light of the early and sweeping disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic across sectors including higher education, PCC launches its first and signature social media campaign highlighting the critical importance of Illinois’ higher education system to the state’s response to and recovery from the crisis.
ILEA WINTER EQUITY INSTITUTE LAUNCHES
February 18-19, 2020
PCC holds the first convening of the ILEA Winter Equity Institute. Unlike the Fall Summit, the Institute brings together members from specific practice areas within ILEA institutions to dive deeper into equity within their work areas. During the inaugural Institute, student affairs administrators and staff providing frontline wraparound student services are introduced to speakers and practices that have yielded positive results in the realm of basic needs and student success.
RELEASE OF AFFORDABILITY STUDY
October 22, 2019
PCC releases its third and most ambitious study, Priced Out: On Illinois’ Disinvestment in Higher Education & What Can Be Done About It. The study has three companion reports: Priced Out: Black Students (published 10/22/2019); Priced Out: Latinx Students (published 10/29/2019); and Priced Out: Rural Students (published 10/29/2019). The reports provide insight into how disparities in access, cost, and ability to pay are creating barriers for Illinois students across the state and recommend policy action to start reversing these trends. PCC’s ambitious study received significant media coverage.
RELEASE OF REGIONAL OUTCOMES REPORT 2019
July 17, 2019
PCC releases, College-Going and Completion in the Chicago Area: A Regional Analysis, a report that offers an examination of trends in enrollment, attainment, and completion in the seven-county metropolitan Chicago area. The report proposes bold equity-focused policy recommendations to address stagnation and increase degree completion rates.
ILEA EQUITY WEBINAR SERIES KICKS OFF
May 30-31, 2019
PCC kicked off the ILEA Equity Webinar Series, a program offering one-hour sessions featuring subject matter experts from across the country discussing proven strategies to facilitate positive student outcomes. The webinar series was part of a host of programmatic supports developed for the Illinois Equity in Attainment initiative.
SJR 41 ESTABLISHES THE DEVELOPMENTAL EDUCATION ADVISORY COUNCIL
May 5, 2019
In its public policy efforts to reform Developmental Education, PCC and its partners reach a policy milestone with the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 41 (SJR 41). SJR 41 creates an advisory council led by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board, charged with creating an inventory and analysis of all developmental education models offered in the state to identify reforms to improve student success in developmental education.
STUDENT ADVISORY COUNCIL LAUNCHED
March 5, 2019
To incorporate student voice into its work in a sustained, systematic, and meaningful way, PCC launches the Student Advisory Council, a committee consisting of a diverse group of 20 undergraduate students currently enrolled in Illinois colleges and universities. The committee engages with and advises PCC’s work in public awareness, public policy, and practice efforts.
INAUGURAL ILEA FALL SUMMIT
November 3, 2018
PCC held its first ILEA in-person convening that brought together over 200+ university practitioners from 25 participating ILEA member institutions in a conference titled the ILEA Fall Summit. ILEA members participated in the all-day Summit, attending sessions focused on Institutional Capacity Assessment and Using Data to Drive Institutional Action.
LAUNCH OF THE ILLINOIS EQUITY IN ATTAINMENT (ILEA) INITIATIVE
October 2, 2018
Unequal Opportunity demonstrated a need for individual college and university commitments to drive efforts to eliminate disparities in institutional graduation rates for low-income students and students of color in Illinois. In response, PCC launches its signature initiative Illinois Equity in Attainment (ILEA), a statewide inaugural cohort of 25 colleges and universities publicly committing to PCC’s goal to eliminate racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps by 2025 and to prioritize increasing completion rates on their campuses by implementing evidence-based approaches.
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL BELONGING INTERVENTION & RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL
August 14, 2018
In partnership with the College Transition Collaborative based out of Stanford University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and with the support of Reach Higher Campaign, PCC supports the development of a video-based intervention designed to increase persistence and completion rates of incoming freshmen by supporting the development of students’ sense of belonging on campus. Bringing on the UChicago Inclusive Economy Lab as the evaluation partner, this research initiative is taking place on four university campuses in and around Chicago and will impact nearly 6,000 students.
Illinois Senate Adopts SR 1647 (Lightford)
June 1, 2018
In partnership with Illinois Senator Kimberly Lightford, PCC achieves its first policy success through the passage of SR 1647 which acknowledges the unequal outcomes and disparities along racial and socioeconomic lines and calls upon the state P20 council to develop equity targets for the states 60X25 goal.
PCC DELIVERS “STUDENT SUCCESS” TRUSTEE TRAINING
October 30, 2017
In October 2016 the Illinois legislature passed Public Act 099-0695 in an effort to formalize the training of public universities’ Board of Trustees. The office of Governor Rauner and the Illinois Board of Higher Education Chair Tom Cross partnered with PCC to provide a “Student Success” training for new and existing university Trustees focused on prioritizing college completion.
RELEASE OF REPORT: UNEQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN ILLINOIS
September 26, 2017
PCC releases, Unequal Opportunity in Illinois: A Look at Who Graduates College and Why It Matters as part of its public launch events. The release of the report launched PCC’s Data and Research area of work. The continued release of original research and reporting has contributed to organizational and coalition building for increased support toward a more equitable higher education system in Illinois.
PRESIDENTS FOR LATINO STUDENT SUCCESS BROUGHT TO ILLINOIS
August 31, 2017
PCC partners with Excelencia in Education, a national nonprofit organization working to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. The joint efforts saw PCC co-implement an Illinois cohort of Excelencia’s Presidents for Latino Students Success. The initiative marked the Partnership’s inaugural effort to create a community of practice.
2017 STRATEGIC PLAN RELEASED
July 12, 2017
The PCC Board of Directors approves the organization’s first Strategic Plan. The PCC Strategic Plan was the result of over 150 meetings with cross-sector stakeholders. The plan called for a three-pronged approach to solving the college completion crisis in Illinois, thus establishing PCC’s first version of its three areas of work: Technical Support, Public Policy, and Public Awareness.
PCC IS FORMALLY ESTABLISHED
August 3, 2016
In May 2016, Forefront’s CCAPS announces the formation of the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) in light of their report Chicago’s College and Career Access, Persistence and Success. The PCC Board of Directors meets on August 3, 2016, formally launching the organization after a search and appointment of PCC’s founding Executive Director, Dr. Kyle Westbrook.