Dear PCC Friends and Supporters,
As we turn the page on another year, one that has continued to disrupt learning and make life even more challenging for current and would-be college students here in Illinois and around the world, I want to take stock of the many things that have also happened this year to move our pursuit of equity forward.
Often the seeds we plant each day or week are things that will bear fruit in the years to come. In 2021, we saw growth in many areas that PCC and our partners had set in motion perhaps months or years before. These hundreds of actions have enabled the milestones we celebrate this year and that will inform and animate our work in 2022.
A Look Back at 2021
- In January, HB 2170—aimed at reversing centuries of systemic racism in education from 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, which included a measure creating the Developmental Education Reform Act (DERA).
- In February, PCC holds the first Winter Equity Institute for ILEA colleges and universities, hosting over 300 colleagues from 26 institutions over the two-day event focused on student affairs and student development practitioners.
- In May, ILEA colleges and universities complete their first year of Equity Plan implementation and begin the process of reflection that would inform updates to their plans for the year ahead.
- In June, SB 815 passes both chambers of the Illinois legislature, creating the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding as PCC ramps up efforts to build a coalition and campaign to advance equitable funding in Illinois. That month, PCC also concludes its first year of the ILEA Equity Academy for Presidents and Cabinets with 11 colleges and universities in partnership with the Aspen Institute.
- In August, Lisa Castillo Richmond succeeds PCC’s founding executive director Dr. Kyle Westbrook to become the organization’s second executive director. In honor of PCC’s five year anniversary, Castillo Richmond and Westbrook reflect on building the organization in a special video interview. In August, PCC also begins regularly convening a group of national and state-level partners to discuss accountability in Illinois higher education.
- In September, PCC receives a grant from Ascendium Education Group to build capacity in Illinois to support implementation of DERA.
- In October, PCC convenes its 2021-22 Student Advisory Council of more than a dozen talented individuals from 16 colleges and universities across Illinois, who will inform our work on issues of equity in policy, advocacy, and institutional practice throughout the academic year.
- In November, PCC hosts its fifth convening of the ILEA Summit with nearly 600 virtual seats filled from 27 colleges and universities, over three days and 14 sessions.
- Finally, in November Illinois’ Equitable Funding Commission convenes for the first time and PCC pens an op-ed in the State Journal-Register with its policy partners about the importance of this opportunity.
Behind these milestones are 11 full-time staff who fight every day for equity in Illinois higher education, each with their own deeply personal connection to our mission. Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons. Tias and tios, sisters and brothers. Partners and friends. Musicians and entrepreneurs, cooks and writers, scholars and teachers, students and mentors: While we celebrated many PCC milestones together this year, we also cheered each other on just as enthusiastically outside of work—welcoming new little ones, celebrating the purchase of new homes, the earning of fellowships, and more. As we celebrate the strides of PCC this year, I invite you to celebrate the humans behind the work and share in their 2021 joy.
What PCC was able to accomplish this year would not have been possible without the heartfelt contributions of each team member and their commitment to our mission. And that work would not have been possible without your ongoing support. It is your support, engagement, and partnership that enables further progress toward educational equity in the state of Illinois. Thank you.
Here’s to hitting the ground running again in 2022.
Warmest holiday wishes,
Lisa Castillo Richmond