The Illinois Higher Education Network (IHEN) is a collaborative effort of higher education stakeholders working together to create a more equitable higher education system in Illinois. IHEN consists of advocacy organizations, college access and success organizations, college and university faculty and staff, students, and other collaborators who believe in the mission, values, goals, and vision of the network.
IHEN develops, advances, and advocates for institutional and state policies that provide opportunities for every student to access and afford college, thrive once enrolled, graduate, and achieve quality postsecondary opportunities. We create and advance an inclusive and equitable policy agenda that is aligned with students’ needs. Together, we build advocacy power, bring greater urgency around our shared and individual efforts, and lead coordinated actions to drive change.
All members of the Illinois Higher Education Network share a commitment to creating an equitable system of higher education that specifically addresses the influence and effect that institutionalized racism and classism have had on student success in higher education, particularly on the success of Black and Latinx students, and students from low-income households. We strive to elevate the voices of those impacted by higher education policy, particularly those who have been marginalized from the policy process and underserved by our higher education system and to maintain an inclusive, welcoming, and engaging space for diverse stakeholders.
Our Vision for Higher Education in Illinois
We envision a higher education system in Illinois that recognizes its current role in and strives to eliminate systemic racism, classism, and other forms of discrimination by actively pursuing equitable enrollment, retention, completion, and work and professional experience and employment during and after graduation.
To achieve this vision, we pursue:
- Adequate, equitable, and transparent higher education funding that ensures the institutions that serve Illinois’ Black, Latinx, and MAP-eligible students have the resources to support their success;
- Recruitment and admissions policies that provide greater access to and success in higher education for Black, Latinx, and students from low-income households;
- Supportive financial, academic, mental health, basic needs, and other services and programs that help equip all students to successfully persist and complete their higher education goals; and
- Accountability of state and institutional leadership for committing resources to the specific needs of marginalized current and potential students, by collecting, sharing, and using data to eliminate gaps in access and success.
Chicago Urban League*
League of United Latin American Citizens*
Partnership for College Completion*
*Steering committee members