A year ago, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Little Village Education Collaborative convened by Enlace Chicago began implementing individualized Equity Response Teams with their local postsecondary partners. Among them, three City Colleges of Chicago, Harold Washington College, Malcolm X College, Daley College, and one four-year institution, Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU).
The purpose of the Equity Response Teams is to convene key leaders from each institution, Enlace postsecondary staff, a current student from the institution that is a resident of Little Village, parents from Little Village with children in college, and a mental health practitioner (see infographic for more information) to address the challenges faced by Little Village students attending these postsecondary institutions and exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Although postsecondary institutions implement and abide by similar policies, protocols, and procedures, they maintain unique cultures, strengths, and challenges. For this reason, it was important to convene separate Equity Response Teams with each, in order to delve deeper into the nuanced experiences of Little Village students at each institution.
After a year of convening Equity Response Teams monthly, two strategies were identified to increase Little Village student support in college access and persistence. For the three City Colleges, those strategies are tailored parent engagement opportunities, including incoming new student parent/family orientations, and a student-led mental health campaign which includes resources for staff and students. The NEIU Equity Response Team identified the need to create and implement a teacher pipeline with the six neighborhood CPS high schools in Little Village and a student-led mental health campaign.