National initiative focuses on 15 practices to close higher ed equity gaps

A relatively new initiative that seeks to rapidly close equity gaps by establishing regional cohorts of two- and four-year colleges is expanding to two new locations, according to The Hechinger Report. Created last October by education research, technology, and services firm EAB, the Moon Shot for Equity project seeks to close equity gaps in college graduation by 2030, removing obstacles to degree completion for historically underrepresented populations such as first generation, low-income, and students of color.

The Moon Shot for Equity project launched with an initial cohort of colleges in Southeastern Wisconsin. EAB says that participating institutions have since made strides—for instance, by removing administrative hurdles for students, improving transfer pathways, and facilitating equity-mindedness training.

Now, schools in Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Pennsylvania have signed on to participate. They have pledged to implement 15 proven practices, collaborate on transfer improvements, and partner with local high schools and businesses. Schools participating in the Moon Shot project, meanwhile, receive support from EAB and advising from student success leaders such as Georgia State University’s Tim Renick and Paula Short of Houston GPS.

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“Why are we doing this work? We’re doing this because mobility is the American dream,” Ashish Vaidya, president of Moon Shot participant Northern Kentucky University told The Hechinger Report.

15 areas of focus

EAB says the best practices driving the Moon Shot for Equity activities were selected for their potential to improve institutions’ leadership and campus climate, access and enrollment, academic policies and practices, and student support and belongingness. Specifically, Moon Shot schools have committed to:

  • Train leaders in effective change management
  • Provide equity-focused professional development
  • Conduct campus climate assessments
  • Expand community-based partnerships
  • Offer second chances for adult learners
  • Audit registration holds and revise policies
  • Offer retention grants for in-need students
  • Assess and align math requirements
  • Offer college-level gateway courses
  • Create undergraduate academic degree maps
  • Leverage meta-majors to ease student pathways
  • Create pathways for transfer students
  • Leverage technology for proactive advising
  • Make student care a coordinated effort
  • Foster student belongingness

In a press release, Tom Sugar, vice president of partnerships at EAB, said, “For too long, higher education has put the onus on students of color and other underserved student populations to adapt and overcome instead of reforming institutional barriers that make their educational journey more arduous than it has to be. All of the schools that have joined the Moon Shot for Equity have committed to fixing those institutional impediments.”

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