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U.S. D.O.E. Points to Approaches Like Linked Learning to Promote College Diversity Amid Loss of Affirmative Action

October 6, 2023 | Anne Stanton

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down college affirmative action programs was a devastating blow. We know the importance of equitable access to higher education and to campus communities that reflect the diversity of our nation—and the reality that America isn’t there today.

The Linked Learning Alliance has long been vocal about the increasingly urgent need to open pathways to college, good-paying jobs, and economic mobility for Black and brown students who continue to face too many barriers to real access. We are not alone. Countless colleagues in education, equity, and workforce development share our concern and determination to counter this setback for young people and the future.

Last week, we were heartened to learn that this community of equity champions is even more robust. Charged by the Biden-Harris Administration, the U.S. Department of Education has released Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Opportunity in Higher Education, a report that draws on extensive research to identify evidence-based steps that state and higher education leaders can take to improve diversity in colleges in this challenging environment.

Among the strategies, the report recommends investment in pathway programs, including those in K–12 schools like Linked Learning, whose headway on this front is proven and promising. Indeed, research shows that Linked Learning pathways lead to powerful student outcomes in districts serving significant minoritized student populations. We know the gains are pronounced for students of color and those living in low-income households. And we see a real pathway to economic justice and prosperity therein.

We have so much work to do. But the good news is we know what works. Others know it too. We are not alone—and that matters as we work toward the future every student and community across America deserves.