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Today, we are pleased to announce the launch of a new blog, Higher Ed Equity Lens, to share in-depth analysis and fresh takes at the intersection of race, class, and higher education. It’s a space designed for higher ed data and policy wonks, faculty, administrators and students, and for those who follow higher education policy and are interested in equity-focused analysis.

The stakes are high. A college degree has never been more important. By 2020, about 65 percent of American jobs will require some form of college. We know that in today’s economy, we need more people to have access to higher education to be competitive. Earning a college degree provides more job security, employment opportunities, and higher wages. While enrollment and completion rates are up overall, college remains out of reach for millions of Americans who are disproportionately people of color and people from lower-income families.

These persistent inequalities in the U.S. higher education system are a threat to our economy, our democracy, and the very idea of the American Dream. We need to push for a more equitable system that serves and supports all students.

As an advocacy organization focused squarely on education equity, we at Ed Trust wear a number of hats: We produce and share research and policy insights; we build and support national and state-based coalitions; and we inform and — hopefully — influence policymakers and other grassroots and grasstop influencers to whom equity in higher education matters. So how does Higher Ed Equity Lens fit in?

We believe that policy, practice, and research in higher education should be viewed and debated through an equity lens.

That means looking closely at the data and asking at every turn, “What does this mean for low-income students and students of color?”

It means beginning every policy conversation with the belief that public officials and education leaders must take steps to counteract exclusionary and discriminatory policies that have created the unequal higher education system we have today.

And it means designing and promoting policies to ensure all students — especially Black, Latino, Native American, and low-income students, all of whom have been historically disadvantaged — are provided with the opportunities and support they need to achieve success in their educational pursuits.

Sometimes, our team will share deep technical write-ups and reports after we crunch the numbers through an equity lens.

Our first piece takes a deeper look at enrollment rates in Puerto Rico, one year after Hurricane Maria.

We point out disparities like these to provide evidence for advocates and a reason for policymakers to take action to demand better outcomes for the students they represent.

Other times, we’ll use this space to quickly respond to something we see out in the higher ed policy universe that ignores the equity dimension or places where analysis falls short.

Higher Ed Equity Lens is a place where we will call attention to stark inequalities across the highest income and lowest income students, and where we will point to places where the current policies and systems are failing students of color.

We also recognize there are different perspectives on equity issues, and we want this to be a space where discussion and debate can happen. Occasionally, we’ll invite guest contributors to submit pieces, whether steeped in data or focused on policy issues of the day—but always written through an equity lens. Interested? Contact info@edtrust.org.

Regardless of considering equity, Congress is contemplating rewriting the Higher Education Act; states are proposing and enacting policies that aim to make college more affordable for students and more accountable to taxpayers; and institutions look to implement policies that impact students. Our goal with Higher Ed Equity Lens is to put questions of race and ethnicity and income at the center of these conversations. We hope you’ll join us. Sign up for the Higher Ed Equity Lens alert at the top right-hand column and be sure to follow Ed Trust on Twitter.