Malcolm X College

The Malcolm X College Conference Center was full of energy and insight on January 24, 2023, during City Colleges of Chicago’s first-ever learning agenda symposium, “Building Toward Equity in Higher Education.” Hundreds of attendees enjoyed a series of discussions led by research experts, City Colleges students, staff, and faculty, and other leaders in the field, including the Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education.

Five years ago, City Colleges of Chicago launched the district’s first-ever learning agenda under the leadership of Chancellor Juan Salgado. Through this effort, City Colleges made a commitment to using data to drive continuous improvement. To do so, we built deep research-practice partnerships with several outside research organizations, including the UChicago Inclusive Economy Lab, the UChicago Consortium on School Research, American Institutes for Research, and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University. Our Learning Agenda work has been funded in part by an Anonymous Foundation.

Sessions highlighted lessons learned through our research, explored potential solutions and best practices, and inspired innovative approaches to supporting students in postsecondary spaces.

In a conversation with United States Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal, City Colleges of Chicago’s Chancellor Juan Salgado shared how City Colleges has made higher education access and affordability a priority for Chicago residents.

“When we can, we offer programs at no cost,” Chancellor Salgado said, going on to describe a few of the no-cost opportunities that eligible Chicagoans can take advantage of. “We had the largest Star Scholarship cohort ever this year. During the pandemic, we understood the need for people to recover economically and enter into high-demand occupations, so we created something called Future Ready…. These kinds of efforts really make a difference.”

Our strong programs, partnerships, and research inform everything we do, from how the district supports early academic momentum to the way we develop holistic wrap-around supports for student success. Recently, City Colleges of Chicago began to scale up our relationship with the student support organization One Million Degrees, which has led to further opportunity for our students to excel.

During an afternoon session on the holistic supports made possible by our recently expanded partnership with One Million Degrees, Veronica Herrero, City Colleges of Chicago’s Chief of Staff and Strategy, spoke about City College’s commitment to equity.

“At City Colleges, we have a very clear north star—equity,” Herrero said. “We want to see equity across all outcomes, but especially completion outcomes. We always knew that OMD (One Million Degrees) had a great impact on our students, but the research shows…that it really changes outcomes. We owe it to our students to scale it,” she said.

View photos from the event below.