Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility (DEIA)
Cook County Higher Education (CCHE) has prioritized the work necessary to counteract discriminatory policies that prevent people from equally accessing the benefits of education.
Our DEIA Committee’s Belief, Mission & Vision Statement
Belief: We know that discriminatory policies and systems of oppression prevent individuals from fair access to the benefits of education.
Mission: Our purpose is to dismantle the policies and infrastructure that prevent people from having equal access to learning opportunities. Through our actions, we hope to foster a safe, welcoming, compassionate, and equitable learning environment so that every student can succeed in earning the education they desire.
Vision: We welcome the community to join us on our DEIA journey. Our staff are empowered to continuously learn and improve. We provide resources and support to remove barriers so all community members have fair access to education. We invite more voices to our table, and care for and listen to those affected by inequity. We are committed to normalizing a culture of inclusivity in Cook County.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Strategic Plan
In May 2021, CCHE began work with Anne Phibbs from Strategic Diversity Initiatives to develop a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategic Plan. Work began with the DEIA Strategic Planning Committee, which included all CCHE staff and two board members, and expanded in scope to include a full-day, virtual DEIA Strategic Planning session. CCHE reached out to community partners from across Cook County, MN inviting them to attend all or part of the day, and approximately 10-12 people were able to participate in the DEIA strategic planning process.
The DEIA Strategic Plan includes 5 Long Term Goals and 7 Short Term Goals to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to CCHE’s programming, building, outreach, policies, and procedures. We welcome your input.
Steps we have identified as important and have already accomplished or are actively working towards include:
- Self-examination of our own institution and culture to identify and remove policies and systems that create barriers.
- Promoting and requiring training for Staff and Board Members on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility topics.
- Adding an accessibility plugin to our website.
- Adding a language translation plugin to our website.
- Creating programming that is inclusive of the diversity in our community: American Indian History, political, and language classes.
- Creating programming that seeks to educate participants about issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility from both a historical and current perspective.
- Seeking grants and donations to provide scholarships for event attendees and local scholarships – distributing approximately $50,000 in tuition scholarships in the past year.
- Connecting with other non-profits in Cook County to form a coalition dedicated to equity work.
- Hiring a native speaker of Anishinaabemowin to create signs for our building, with the view of more fully representing the members of our community.
- Providing access to programming as a recording to allow for flexible remote learning.
- Distributing low-cost laptops, that include payment and/or scholarship optioins
- Providing building use to our students for free 24/7 access to study space, WIFI, computers, scanning, faxing, and low-cost printing services.
- Creating and using a Land Acknowledgement Statement.
- Creating an action-oriented DEIA Committee that includes Staff and Board Members.
We acknowledge and celebrate the Anishinaabe, Dakota, and other Indigenous peoples whose traditional, ancestral, & current homelands we are presently on. Please read through this page to learn about the concrete ways CCHE supports Indigenous communities now and into the future.
To learn more about the importance of creating a land acknowledgment statement and tips on how to create one, visit this page: https://nativegov.org/a-guide-to-indigenous-land-acknowledgment/
Some Helpful definitions:
Diversity includes characteristics of race, age, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, national origin, migratory status, disability/abilities, political affiliation, veteran status, and socioeconomic background. It also includes differences in backgrounds, ideas, thought, values and beliefs. Embracing differences make us a better community, organization, and individuals.
Equity requires providing justice, fairness, and access to opportunities and resources for all stakeholders.
To be an Inclusive organization is to respect everyone, value differences, acknowledge the impact of differences, and capitalize on those differences by drawing on the strengths that produce innovative solutions from the synergy of our stakeholders.