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Complete College America selects 22 predominantly Black community colleges in eight states to align academic programs for adult learners of color with workforce needs

March 10, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Complete College America (CCA), a national non-profit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States, announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind national network of 22 Historically Black Community Colleges (HBCCs) and Predominantly Black Community Colleges (PBCCs) across 8 states. With $1.5 million in support from Lumina Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the PBCC-HBCC Network will share research and best practices to strengthen the career and economic outcomes of community college students of color.

The members of the PBCC-HBCC Network include (by state and alphabetical order): 

  • Alabama: Bishop State Community College, Chattahoochee Valley Community College, Gadsden State Community College, H. Councill Trenholm State Community College, J.F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Lawson State Community College, Shelton State Community College, and Wallace Community College Selma
  • Arkansas: Arkansas State University Mid-South, Southeast Arkansas College, and University of Arkansas- Pulaski Technical College
  • Georgia: Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • Illinois: Olive-Harvey College (City Colleges of Chicago)
  • Louisiana: Baton Rouge Community College, Delgado Community College, and Southern University at Shreveport
  • Massachusetts: Roxbury Community College
  • Michigan: Wayne County Community College District
  • South Carolina: Central Carolina Technical College, Denmark Technical College Northeastern Technical College, and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College

“Despite the significant number of Black students they serve, Historically Black Community Colleges and Predominantly Black Community Colleges have only relatively recently gained the increased recognition they deserve for the unique and critical role that they play,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America. “We undertake this work with profound respect for the mission, impact, and history of these institutions. This is about finding new ways to align HBCC and PBCC programming and support services with workforce needs—and create credentials of value that meet the unique needs and aspirations of adult learners of color.”

Approximately 13% of Black students in the U.S. attend community colleges. Nationally, there are 12 historically Black community colleges and 49 predominantly Black community colleges. Under the definition created by the federal government in 2008, PBCCs enroll at least 40% of African American students and at least 50% of students from under-resourced households or first-generation students and cost less for full-time undergraduate students than similar institutions. HBCCs are defined as institutions with a historical mission of serving Black students that predates the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

“For the first time ever, we are bringing together this critical–and overlooked—set of institutions to not only enhance their impact and effectiveness but also expand the national evidence base on supporting community college students of color,” said Dr. Nia Haydel, vice president of alliance engagement and institutional transformation at CCA. “The creation of this network will elevate the powerful contributions that HBCCs and PBCCs make in supporting social and economic mobility for Black Americans, particularly those in underserved communities.”

AUDIO: Listen to a “CCA On The Air” podcast with Dr. Nia Haydel about the PBCC-HBCC Network.

To accelerate the impact and performance of these institutions, CCA will work collaboratively with members of the PBCC-HBCC Network to identify and respond to the needs of adult learners of color. Initially launched in August 2021, the project focuses on the connection between educational experiences and career outcomes of Black students. Over two years, colleges will assess their current degree programs to identify courses and competencies that lead to credentials of value and are aligned with the needs of employers. They will also work to identify best practices around  career and academic advising and wraparound supports to help meet students’ basic needs, such as access to nutrition, housing, and affordable transportation.

Research, evaluation, and the identification of best practices will be at the core of the PBCC-HBCC Network’s efforts. Participating institutions will form a national community of experts and practitioners that will enable PBCCs and HBCCs to share expertise resources across institutions—and tap into the Network for technical assistance and support from national experts and peer institutions.

After the project, the cohort of the institutions will share baseline data on their progress toward eliminating differences in educational outcomes by race and age at their respective institutions. CCA and members of the Network will use the research and insights uncovered through the project to inform state and federal policy recommendations to better support students attending PBCCs and HBCCs.

In addition to the Network’s membership, CCA also announced the formation of a PBCC-HBCC Advisory Council of national experts who will provide guidance, insight and capacity to support participating institutions. The Advisory Council members include:

  • James Anderson, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Olivier Charles, vice chancellor for student success at the Alabama Community Colleges System
  • Kayla Elliott, Ph.D., director for Higher Education Policy at the Education Trust
  • Rosline Sumpter, Ph.D., vice president of academic, student affairs and research at the South Carolina Technical College System
  • Margaret Montgomery-Richard, Ph.D., retired chancellor of Louisiana Technical Colleges 
  • Lenore Rodicio, Ph.D., senior fellow at the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program 
  • Michael Baston, J.D., Ed.D., president of Rockland Community College
  • Joe Seabrooks, Ph.D., president of Dallas College, Cedar Valley Campus


About Complete College America: Complete College America (CCA) builds movements for scaled change and transforms institutions through data-driven policies, student-centered perspectives, and equity-driven practices. Since its founding in 2009, CCA connects a national network of forward-thinking state and higher education leaders and introduces bold initiatives to help states and institutions confront inequities, close institutional performance gaps, and increase college completion rates, especially for marginalized and historically excluded students.