CHICAGO, March 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Women Employed is launching the Accelerating Student Progress and Increasing Racial Equity (ASPIRE) Project to improve developmental education in Illinois and increase equity, access to, and success in education and career and technical training.

As currently structured, developmental education can be a barrier to students’ college completion, contributing to damaging racial achievement gaps in higher education. Each year, up to 60,000 Illinois students—disproportionately low-income and students of color—are placed into remediation before starting college to improve basic academic skills. More than 80% never complete their programs. If those students started college with academic supports, research shows they would be significantly more successful.

Through the ASPIRE Project, Women Employed continues our long-term leadership to improve statewide policy for developmental education and builds on our work with the statewide developmental education task force convened by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). Additionally, we will partner with ten community colleges to develop innovative strategies to determine college readiness and support students’ academic progress.

“Too many students—especially low-income, Black and Brown students—who have the ability to succeed in higher education are deemed ‘not college ready,'” says Cherita Ellens, President and CEO of Women Employed. “Developing strategies to place more of them directly into college-level, credit-bearing courses can help more students finish their programs.” 

“Following the pandemic and recession, an increased number of students are expected to seek training through Illinois community colleges, yet those with low basic reading, writing, or math skills will not qualify for the career and technical education (CTE) programs needed to acquire credentials.” shared ECMC Foundation Career Readiness Senior Director, Jennifer Zeisler. “Women Employed is positioned to help colleges eliminate barriers that keep students out of CTE programs and catalyze statewide, long-term equity improvements across Illinois.”

This work is funded in part by a multi-year grant from ECMC Foundation.

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Since 1973, Women Employed has improved the economic status of women and removed barriers to economic equity by effecting policy change, expanding access to educational opportunities, and advocating for fair, inclusive workplaces so all women, families, and communities can thrive. Learn more:

SOURCE Women Employed

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