Avanza: NC Community Colleges Advancing Latino Student Success
April 19, 2023
On Monday, March 27, 2023, The Hunt Institute hosted the first convening of Avanza in partnership with LatinxEd and the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research.
Avanza is a community of practice designed to provide institutional leaders with a space to discuss best practices and barriers to Latino student success. Over the course of a year, institutional leaders will receive technical assistance and policy support to help build capacity to lead and innovate in order to advance access and attainment for Latino North Carolinians. Our first cohort is comprised of ten institutions from across the state who are advocates for Latino students and play critical roles in recruiting, supporting, and graduating Latino students:
The convening took place at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, NC. The meeting started with some welcome remarks from leaders from the three co-host organizations: Allison Goff Clark, Deputy Director of North Carolina Programs at The Hunt Institute, Monica Clark, Deputy Director at the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, and Elaine Utin, Co-Founder and Executive Director at LatinxEd.
The first session, titled “Closing Equity Gaps in Latino Postsecondary Access and Attainment,” featured resource experts Melody Gonzales, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics, and Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, President of Amarillo College. This session, moderated by Allison Goff Clark, Deputy Director of North Carolina Programs at The Hunt Institute, provided a national framework on the importance of closing equity gaps in postsecondary access and attainment for Latino students. Resource experts shared institutional and federal efforts to support Latino students and set the stage for how participating institutions can build capacity to serve Latino students.
The next session, “North Carolina’s Latino Population,” highlighted the growth of Latinos in North Carolina and provided institutions with relevant data. Participants also had the opportunity to discuss their data in small groups and explore population growth within their own geographic regions. Monica Clark, Deputy Director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, moderated this session which was led by Dr. Nathan Dollar, Director of Carolina Demography.
Attendees then engaged in a discussion of their current institutional readiness to support Latino students and discussed goals for their time with Avanza. This session, moderated by Elaine Utin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of LatinxEd, and Lucia Lozano Robledo, Curriculum and Program Specialist at LatinxEd, provided institutional leaders the opportunity to intentionally think of their institution’s overall vision and overarching goals for better serving and supporting Latino students.
For the program’s final session, leaders broke into small groups to discuss best practices, barriers they face, and action steps they can take to advance their Latino student success efforts.
To close out the day, Dr. AJ Jaeger, Executive Director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, and our very own Julia Ahrns Hoffman, Senior Policy Analyst for Higher Education at The Hunt Institute, provided closing remarks after institutional leaders shared takeaways from the convening, including goals and topics of interest for future programming.
Special thanks to LatinxEd and to the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research for their partnership in this program, and to The Belk Endowment for their support.