Let's Talk About Race

As a department, we recognize the importance of having conversations about race as a higher education community. We serve our department and state because we believe that higher education builds brighter futures. We believe in the power of education to broaden horizons, enhance understanding, strengthen justice and forge compassion. 

Still there is much we need to do to create a higher education environment where all can thrive. Which is why our Department with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education adopted the Colorado Rises Master Plan – four urgent strategies that drive toward a goal of 66 percent credential attainment by 2025.Closing the equity gaps – ensuring all Coloradans have a pathway to higher education and success in life – is imperative if we are to achieve this goal. Colorado's stark equity gaps illustrate that we're simply not doing enough to remove barriers to higher education for all Coloradans, whose talent and contributions are foundational to Colorado’s thriving community and economy. 

Working together, we can ensure everyone has a chance to earn that life-changing certificate or degree. We can improve outcomes and reduce debt. We can slam the door shut on equity gaps. And, most importantly, we can ensure Colorado rises for generations to come.  

How we’re taking action 

Our institutions and educators need to have the resources to provide an inclusive learning experience. The Equity Toolkit for Inclusive Teaching and Learning focuses on introductory, beginner-level strategies and techniques to help educators develop and refine their knowledge and skills to become more inclusive practitioners. CDHE is working to expand the toolkit to include modules for academic advisors, student support providers and K-12 educators and administrators.  

The Equity Champions Coalition (ECC) seeks to advance statewide policy and inform higher education support and services for Colorado’s most vulnerable students with the goal of eliminating gaps. The Coalition serves as advisors to CDHE by developing a collective vision and strategic direction to guide the work of the Office of Educational Equity. The ECC also works alongside CDHE to guide the implementation of high-impact strategies across institutions, collaborate on best practices, collect and analyze data and identify necessary work to continue to close gaps. 

Addressing the Social Determinants of Student Success  

Meeting the "human-needs" of students is vital to Colorado achieving goals around increased educational attainment. To ensure more students have access to resources to meet basic needs CDHE is advancing conversations across higher education and human services to ensure that policies and practices to remove barriers to access. Additionally, the department has partnered with advocacy organizations, like the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Young Invincibles and Hunger Free Colorado, to raise awareness and identify best practices. This includes partnering with Single Stop, a national organization ⁠to implement a platform that helps campuses connect people to various public benefits programs. Additionally, the department is working to find ways to create more mental health services to students.  

Collectively we have a lot of work to do to break down systemic structures that have led to the current gaps. Most importantly we must engage and listen. Below you can find additional links to resources on how to facilitate conversations about race with students, colleagues and as a community. We want to provide steps to change -  steps to take today— to support Black lives in your community: 

  • 10 Rules to Fight for Black People’s Freedom: Read through this manifesto by #BlackLivesMatter founder Patrisse Cullors, and use it to have a conversation at your workplace, school, place of worship, community organization, or kitchen table.  

  • BLK Paper: Incredible depictions of rage and hope by Black artists, photographers and graphic designers. Download the images, print them out, wheat paste them, stick them to light poles, share them with friends and inspire the neighborhood to join the movement. 

  • City Budgets Belong to Us: Check out this resource and see how your city/town invests in policing. If you disagree with what you find, join the debate to #DefundPolice, contact your local city officials and ask questions. 

  • Call The Halls: Is this the first time you’ve reached out to elected officials? Check out this comprehensive guide on the most strategic ways to contact your representatives.  

  • DIY Imaginings: The big-picture conversations we’re in right now require new ways of imagining our world. Whether we’re envisioning new forms of governance and public safety, or reparations and prison abolition, social imagination is a muscle that needs exercising. Use this free guide from the USDAC for tips on how to host an arts-based dialogues in your community that stretches imagination for the world that is possible and strengthens resolve to bring it into being.