Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative Evaluation

Using a facilitated collaborative to improve racial equity in higher education organizations.

Colleges and universities often perpetuate racial inequities by inadvertently instituting policies and practices that serve their affluent White students (Carnevale & Strohl 2013; Williams, 2019) and result in much lower graduation rates for their Black and Latinx students. Instead of attending to these inequities, higher education practitioners and scholars often employ colorblind frameworks or focus their interventions at the student level, potentially missing the embedded organizational ideologies that entrench these inequalities. In response to this issue, the Partnership for College Completion developed the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA). ILEA is a facilitated collaborative comprising 26 public and private, 2- and 4-year institutions in Illinois. The collaborative is dedicated to helping its members achieve equitable rates of college completion through the development and enactment of equity plans.

ILEA’s structure and membership offer a unique opportunity to identify the most effective policies and practices for reducing racial inequities in college achievement. With funding from the WT Grant Foundation, NORC will conduct comparative, qualitative case studies across 25 percent of ILEA’s member institutions to study how colleges and universities can implement organizational change to better support Black and Latinx students’ college completion outcomes. The variation in cases (e.g., 2-year/4-year, public/private, disparities in graduation rates) will enable us to explore how potentially overlooked organizational factors contributed to the choice and spread of policies throughout institutions and the ways a facilitated collaborative supported these efforts.

This study will advance critical and practical insights on what works and why, and on typically invisible organizational practices that contribute to more equitable college outcomes.


Shazia Miller
Senior Vice President

Johanna S. Quinn
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Fordham University

Rachel Carly Feldman
Research Scientist

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