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CDHE releases an inaugural equity report for attainment

ECC Action Plan focuses on 5 key themes // Screenshot from CDHE report

On December 18, 2020, Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) and CDHE’s Equity Champions Coalition (ECC) released Colorado’s first equity report for higher education called “Report on Educational Equity: Creating a Colorado for All.” 

In Colorado, white students have an attainment level of 65%, which is one percent short of the state’s 66% goal. However, only 29% of Hispanic and Latinx students, 33% of Native American and Alaska Native students, and 40% of African American and Black students have earned a secondary education credential. 

“Creating a Colorado for All means that we acknowledge that our state must have an intentional and specific focus on race and ethnicity to erase educational equity gaps,” says the CDHE Higher Education website. “We must live and breathe equity, infusing it in all of our work. If we fail, others will perceive us as neutral on the topic, and follow suit.”

The 48-page report asks: What successes have we seen in Colorado, and what policies and practices are promoting that success? We attempt to better understand the issues our students face and the historic issues that have created our current educational equity gaps.


According to, Postsecondary refers to education or training beyond high school. Attainment means the completion of a postsecondary degree or nondegree credential. Postsecondary attainment is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It includes postsecondary degrees, such as associate or bachelor’s degrees, awarded by a college or university, as well as nondegree credentials such as technical certifications.

Here are findings about postsecondary degree gaps in Colorado: 

  • Gaps greater than 30% exist by race/ethnicity
  • Gaps between 6% and 11% exist by gender
  • Gaps between 14% to 23% exist by socioeconomic status
Figures 7 and 8 demonstrates Asian and White populations switch between the first
and second-highest ranked bachelor’s degree attainment rate, with an overall upward path. For
the race/ethnicities showing lower completion percentages, the Hispanic or Latinx population
maintains the lowest bachelor’s attainment rate, followed by American Indian or Alaska Native
then Black or African American. // CDHE Equity Report

Workforce earnings

  • Males earn more than females with the same credentials, up to $24,000 more when comparing the same bachelor’s degree in STEM fields
  • Racial disparities exists when looking within the same gender. Gaps of up to $7,000 when looking between Hispanic or Latinx females and Black or African American females with a health certificate
  • The largest gap between males with the same degree lies within those with a certificate in trades, with a gap of nearly $9,000
Looking at gender, there are substantial
gaps every year between the mean earnings of
a female versus a male (Figure 12). Males earn
more on average, and the gap has not improved.
Figure 13 shows there is a large gap between
the top two earning race/ethnicities and the
bottom two earning race/ethnicities, although
the gap is not nearly as high as the gender gap. // CDHE Equity Report


The report lists recommendations in three main areas:

  • Communication. Communicate the value of a public higher education system that is equitable and accessible to all identities, abilities, and races.
  • Equity-minded practices. Implement equity practices throughout campuses using tools to understand areas of improvement. Create intentional, safe, and inclusive spaces, and adapt curriculum to better reflect and inform the voices of all students.
  • Policy. Analyze existing policies and develop new policies that support equitable and inclusive practices.

Action plan

According to the report, “the action plan provides practical improvement strategies to ongoing activities to promote enrollment, persistence, completion against equity gaps. The ECC, State and Legislature are tasked and committed to a set of recommended actions.”

  • Funding to increase access to development tools for success
  • Research analysis of existing policy identified as having systemic barriers for students of color
  • Improve statewide outreach and marketing to increase student access to opportunities
  • Embed Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEI_A) practices into institutional culture and hiring practices
  • Elevate and centralize student voice

Read the report

Without providing equal access to a postsecondary credential, Colorado will not have a prepared or diverse workforce to fill higher-paying jobs.

Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Equity Champions Coalition released this 48-page report as a foundation for their equity work to build off of.

“Our North star is clear, having the vision written into CDHE’s Master Plan ensures this goal is carried through changes in gubernatorial administrations and executive directors,” CDHE writes of the report. 

Download and read the full report here. 

Meet the Equity Champions Coalition

The Equity Champions Coalition (ECC) advances statewide policy and informs higher education support and services for Colorado’s most vulnerable students to remove educational completion gaps in the state by race, ethnicity, and income. 

Co-Chairs: David Olguin, Public Affairs and Ethnic Studies Scholar and Student Advisor to Colorado Commission on Higher EducationCo-Chair & Student Liaison to the Equity Champions Coalition and Dr. Ryan Ross, Associate Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs Equity and Inclusion for Colorado Community College System and Co-Chair to the Equity Champions Coalition;

Sub-Committee members: Dr. Michael Benitez, Andrea Benton-Maestas, Javon Brame, Maria DeLaCruz, Nazia Hasan, Chris Juarez, Dr. Melanie Hulbert, and Dr. Sarah Wyscaver

Members: Dr. Brenda Allen, Sara D. Anderson, Dr. Sharon Bailey, Mr. Keith Barnes, Dr. LeManuel Bitsóí, Commissioner Luis Colón, Theodosia Cook, Patricia Duhalde, Dr. Nathaniel Easley, Bonnie Fruland, Richard Gonzales, Dr. Tobias Guzmán, Shane Hoon, Dr. Valentina Iturbe-LaGrave, Therese Ivancovich, Tyler Jaeckel, Mary Ann Lucero, Jen Macken, Dominic Martinez, Andrea Maestas, Dyllon Mills, Dr. Mary Ontiveros,  Emily Osan, Dr. Angie Paccione, Dr. Hillary Potter, Dr. Regina Richards, Nelson Rodriguez, Dr. Tom Romero, Dr. Ryan Ross, Andrea Salazar Morgan, Dr. Amisha Singh, Bobby Smith, Commissioner Brittany Stich, Leslie Taylor, Ria Vigil, Dr. Nelia Viveiro