Bridging the Equity Gap Initiative Will Support Students of Color
Minneapolis College has announced a $2 million Bridging the Equity Gap initiative to help eliminate educational inequalities and create opportunities for young inner-city men to elevate their socio-economic status.
College officials are pledging to put the words in its Equity Statement into actions that will advance efforts to prevent and dismantle systematic racism. One such action is establishing the Bridging the Equity Gap initiative. It was developed with support from a donor in 2020 and shaped by the social justice movement sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd.
“His experience has underscored the need to expand access to a better life for men of color in our society,” Pierce said. The goal of the program is to provide educational opportunities and experiences that can change the trajectory of participants’ lives and lay the foundation for leadership in the community.
“Minneapolis College’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution and eliminating equity gaps in educational outcomes requires us to hold ourselves accountable, not just for our efforts around racial equity, but for the outcomes we achieve,” according to Pierce.
This initiative will provide a comprehensive program specifically designed for local African American, Black and American Indian male students who are compelled to explore their academic and professional potential.* Pierce continued, “The program was designed to reach, educate and cultivate the community’s future leaders through an affirming, learning-centered cohort experience in which students are equipped with tools that encourage them to see greatness in themselves.”
The cohort system supports student success through personal, cultural and professional engagement. It is comprised of four elements: team building, leadership development, mentorship and civic engagement. The goal for participants is to build their identity (knowledge of self), their community (connection to others), their capacity (leadership through service) and their advancement (self-driven growth).
This approach is designed to positively impact these students’ retention and graduation. Support for participating students will be tailored to their unique experiences and may include:
- Financial assistance (scholarships, course materials, meal cards)
- Academic support (coaching, tutoring, individual advising)
- Supportive faculty and staff (one-on-one and in group settings)
- Student-centered services and resources (bus passes, emergency funds, program fees)
- On and off campus cohort activities (retreats, service-learning opportunities, seminars, dinners, university tours)
- Cohort-based learning (peer reinforcement, group projects, mentoring)
The goal is to enroll up to 25 students for the 2021-22 academic year and 50 students annually in subsequent years. Program cost, per student, will be approximately \$4,000 annually. The Minneapolis College Foundation is currently soliciting support to reach its \$2 million endowment goal to ensure the program is fully funded for students now and into the future. Generous donors have already contributed more than a half million dollars to the endowment managed by the Foundation.
African American, Black and American Indian male students between age 18 and 24 who reside in Minneapolis and graduated from a Minneapolis Public School or received a GED after attending a Minneapolis school will receive priority consideration.
The program will develop each student as a whole person and equip them with leadership competencies and cultural fluency essential in today’s workforce. “Students will be empowered to complete their desired educational journeys and then give back to their communities through leadership opportunities,” Pierce explained. “We believe eliminating equity gaps in educational outcomes is an essential path forward to a more equitable and just community for all.”
The program is considered a capstone of the College’s public reaffirmation of its intentional actions toward achieving equity and opportunity through education. “This is part of our promise to change today’s world so that tomorrow’s world can become a place of equality and justice,” said Pierce.
*Bridging the Equity Gap is an example of the commitment from Minneapolis College to offer access to underrepresented students. Minneapolis College offers a robust menu of programs and support for all eligible students without regard for race, gender or national origin.