June 10, 2019

Kishwaukee Colleges commits to help close degree completion disparities for low-income, first generation students

Kishwaukee College joined the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) with the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA), a collaborative effort between the PCC and member institutions to end institutional inequalities in college graduation rates by 2025. The ILEA focuses on low-income and first generation students as well as students of color. Kish joined ILEA following PCC’s Spring Summit in April, which brought together leaders of all participating colleges, national equity experts, and students to discuss how programs can be developed, shared, and implemented to eliminate achievement gaps in college degree completion. Kishwaukee College, Chicago State University, Elgin Community College, and Loyola University Chicago are the newest institutions to join the initial 25 two- and four-year public and private institutions involved with the ILEA.

“Kishwaukee College is excited to join our peers in the ILEA cohort,” said Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College. “While our College is located in a rural setting, we serve a diverse student population, reflective of our communities and students moving to our district from urban areas. We believe that the Partnership will help us with our goal of eliminating the achievement gap for our students of color.”

ILEA launched in October 2018 amidst research identifying large and persistent gaps in college degree completion that fall along socio-economic and racial lines. Illinois has the fourth largest African-American/White completion gap in the country: African-American students are only half as likely as White students to complete a bachelor's degree in six years (33.7 percent compared to 66.4 percent) or an associate degree in three years (17.3 percent compared to 35.7 percent). Significant completion gaps also exist in Illinois for Latino students, with the bachelor’s degree completion rate at 48.3 percent and the associate degree completion rate at 24.3 percent.

“We are thrilled at the growing number of colleges and universities who understand that closing the college completion gap in Illinois is an economic and social imperative,” said Kyle Westbrook, Founding Executive Director of the PCC. “Most important, these schools will be implementing specific action plans to ensure equal opportunity for all students to succeed in higher education.”

Kish and the other institutions will develop an equity plan for 2020-2025 that will be in place by December 2019 and will include annual growth targets for low income, first generation, African-American and Latino students. By joining the ILEA, Kish will adhere to the core beliefs of the ILEA and develop efforts to increase the completion rate on campus. Any program and policy changes aimed to remove unnecessary hurdles to graduation will be data-driven.

The total number of institutions involved with the ILEA represents 245,097 total undergraduates, or 43 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment in the state of Illinois. ILEA institutions serve 46 percent of all African American and 71 percent of all Latino/a undergraduates enrolled in the state.

The PCC will issue annual reports on progress toward these goals. Reducing financial barriers to attainment by providing cost-effective and creative solutions for low-income students to finance their college education and reduce time to degree is a crucial first-step. The College will also work to identify obstacles students face and develop programs and policies that break down cultural, navigational, and academic barriers to college graduation.

The 29 participating colleges and universities are: Blackburn College; Chicago State University; College of Lake County; DePaul University; Dominican University; Elgin Community College; Governors State University; Harold Washington College; Harry S. Truman College; Joliet Junior College; Kishwaukee College; Kennedy King College; Loyola University Chicago; Malcolm X College; Moraine Valley Community College; Morton College; National Louis University; Northeastern Illinois University; Northern Illinois University; Oakton Community College; Olive Harvey College; Richard J. Daley College; Robert Morris University; Roosevelt University; Saint Xavier University; University of Illinois – Chicago; University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign; Waubonsee Community College; and Wilbur Wright College.

For more information about the Partnership, please visit www.partnershipfcc.org.

For more information about ILEA, please visit www.partnershipfcc.org/ilea.