Recent HECC Equity-Related Initiatives and Programs
The HECC’s commitment to equity informs policy decision making, funding recommendations, ongoing programs as well as special initiatives. The list below describes just a selection of many recent and ongoing efforts.
- In 2020, HECC encouraged Oregon higher education institutions to read, adapt, adopt, and employ the Governor’s Oregon Equity Framework in COVID Response and Recovery as they undertake their COVID response and recovery efforts. In addition, HECC established four interim guiding principles to guide work during the pandemic.
- After years of effort, the Legislature in 2019 created and funded the agency’s first permanent position focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. In late 2019, HECC hired Rudyane Rivera-Lindstrom to lead this work.
- The HECC is advancing work supported by a $689,000 Talent, Innovation, and Equity (“TIE”) partnership grant from Lumina Foundation to help eliminate disparities in postsecondary success rates between Oregon’s overall student population and historically underrepresented students of color. The grant supports a suite of state leadership activities aimed to improve postsecondary success in Oregon for African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander learners, with a particular focus on adult learners of color.
- With support from the TIE partnership grant, HECC has been in closer conversation with diverse community leaders in 2019-2020. They are helping guide work across our agency, including by helping develop a Strategic Roadmap for postsecondary education, hosting community meetings, and serving on HECC’s Equity Advisory Group and Leadership Council for Equity to guide and implement equity-focused strategies.
- Since 2018, HECC has clearly reported disaggregated data through the Statewide Higher Education Snapshots, an annual set of reports, providing a high level overview of data on enrollment, affordability and outcomes for resident students in Oregon's public institutions, disaggregated by ethnicity/race, and more. Readers can explore reader-friendly statewide data on first-generation students and students of color among all Oregon residents.
- In 2018, with the adoption of the HECC Strategic Framework, the HECC updated its official statements of mission, vision, values and beliefs and defined strategic areas of activity, and established Equity as one of four HECC goals, in addition to Student Success, Affordability, and Economic and Community Impact. The vision statement begins: "The Higher Education Coordinating Commission envisions a future in which all Oregonians—and especially those whom our systems have underserved and marginalized—benefit from the transformational power of high-quality postsecondary education and training...". Read more about the Strategic Plan and Framework here.
- HECC's Key Performance Metrics, were redesigned in 2017 with an increased focus on equity and student success. Every state agency in Oregon reports annually on a set of Key Performance Metrics (KPMs) to the Oregon Legislature. Thanks to input from legislators during the 2017 Session, HECC revised the agency metrics to more meaningfully reflect HECC priorities and goals, including six new measures disaggregated by race/ethnicity.
- In 2015-2016, the HECC began implementing a new formula for the distribution of state resources to public universities that incentivizes support for underserved populations. The Student Success and Completion Model (SSCM) creates state financial incentives for universities to increase the number of resident students who complete degrees, with additional funding weights for students of color, low-income, rural, and veteran students. In 2019-2020, HECC has been engaged in a process of reviewing the formula.
- A number of HECC’s financial aid and college affordability programs and initiatives detailed here are driven and guided by equity goals, including: redesign of the Oregon Opportunity Grant to prioritize support for low-income students; the FAFSA Plus+ program aimed to increase completion of financial aid applications; the launch of the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA), an alternative to FAFSA for undocumented students who are ineligible for federal financial aid, and more.
- The HECC continually works with high schools and partners statewide on pre-college mentoring and outreach programs to prepare students of all backgrounds for success in college and career, through Oregon ASPIRE, community outreach presentations and more.
- HECC staff are involved in numerous collaborative campus efforts to streamline the community college to university transfer pathway, working to improve affordability and time to degree for students including low-income, first generation, and underserved student groups.
- HECC leads policy efforts to improve pathways to earn college credit, including college credit while in high school and Credit for Prior Learning, benefitting many returning and adult students.
- HECC implements federal workforce programs as well as administration of adult basic skills statewide to train returning students, adults, dislocated workers, and all Oregonians with the skills they need for gainful employment.
Recent equity-related legislative directives:
The Oregon Legislature entrusts the HECC with research and analysis of numerous higher education policy questions of critical interest to the state, including bills and initiatives related to improving equity, a selection of which are described below. All final HECC reports submitted to the Legislature can be found here, and more information on recent legislation can be found in our most recent legislative summaries here.
- With funding approved by the Oregon Legislature in the last two biennia, HECC has awarded $3.1M in competitive grant funds for First Generation Student Success grants to thirteen Oregon’s public community college to support strategies to serve underserved first-generation populations.
- HECC continues to support implementation of House Bill 2864 (2017), which defined cultural competency and directed public universities and community colleges to establish a process for recommendation and oversight of cultural competency standards implementation for institutions and employees.
- As directed by Senate Bill 755 (2013) and House Bill 3375 (2015), HECC contributes to the annual Oregon Educator Equity Report, documenting Oregon's progress in diversifying the educator workforce, working with the Education and Workforce Policy Advisor, Oregon Department of Education, and Teacher's Standards and Practices Commission.
- HECC reviews the educator equity plans for the public colleges of education in Oregon. House Bill 3375 (2015) required that public educator preparation programs in Oregon, with guidance from the HECC, produce written plans to increase cultural and linguistic diversity in the educator workforce through recruitment, retention, and graduation of diverse candidates.
- House Bill 2263 (2019) created three grants, to be administered by Oregon Department of Education in collaboration with HECC, with the goal of expanding the availability of accelerated learning programs to underrepresented students. In conjunction with these efforts, the HECC is required to study best practices in order to expand accelerated learning across Oregon.
- Through Senate Bill 182 (2017), among other provisions, HECC was given the authority to award scholarships to culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates.
- Pursuant to legislative directives, the HECC has developed numerous policy reports on equity topics, including competency-based education (HB 3289, 2017); addressing disparities in higher education through continuing education (HB 3308, 2015); and more.