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Illinois Board of Higher Education Announces New Strategic Plan to Provide Equitable Access to Postsecondary Education for All

Press Release - Tuesday, June 15, 2021

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) today released a new strategic plan for higher education institutions across the state. The plan, which passed with unanimous support from the board, was developed in cooperation with the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC). A Thriving Illinois: Educational Paths to Equity, Sustainability and Growth is the product of a 9-month stakeholder engagement process and is designed to address systemic inequities that have affected Illinois' postsecondary outcomes, the needs of the state's economy, and postsecondary attainment.

"Our vision of a thriving Illinois is one that provides equal access to higher learning opportunities to every interested resident, specifically those who have been historically left behind," said John Atkinson, IBHE Chair. "Now is the time to realize this vision through educational paths that drive toward equity, sustainability, and growth." 

After holding focus groups and organizing a 10,000-respondent survey, the IBHE board outlined three key goals for the state's higher education community and engaged regional stakeholders to identify opportunities and barriers to achieving the goals. The three goals are:

• GOAL 1: Equity. Strategies will close the equity gaps for students who have been left behind. The plan outlines strategies to close equity gaps that disproportionally impact Black, Latinx, and other students of color, low-income students, working adults, and students from rural communities. Stakeholders designed directives to close gaps in enrollment, retention, advancement, and completion rates for diverse and disconnected learners.
 GOAL 2: Sustainability. Strategies will build a stronger financial future. Addressing financial sustainability for both individual and higher education institutions, the plan recommends an expanded Monetary Award Program (MAP) and increased investment through a new equitable, stable, and sufficient higher education funding system.
• GOAL 3: Growth. Strategies aim to increase talent and innovation to drive economic growth. The plan calls for tighter alignment between educational institutions and centers for entrepreneurship and innovation to build a future-ready workforce. A new statewide Business and Employer Advisory Council will partner with higher education to strengthen pipelines of learners ready to engage an evolving economy.

A 37-person advisory committee spearheaded the strategy-development process and engaged 200 stakeholders who were all committed to the plan vision - that Illinois has a higher education ecosystem that can ensure individuals, families, and communities across the state can thrive.

"The challenges and revelations of 2020 informed our process and sharpened our focus on new ways to create more equitable educational experiences that benefit individual learners and the entire state of Illinois," said Ginger Ostro, IBHE Executive Director. "Using these strategies in the next decade, we have the opportunity to create broader paths to a prosperous future for every learner, leader, and community that we engage."

The full plan can be read at www.ibhe.org.

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