• Anti-Racism and Poverty Efforts Gain MHCC National Equity Award

    The College is honored to receive the 2021 Charles Kennedy Equity Award

    The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) has recognized Mt. Hood Community College’s efforts to systematically address racism, poverty and language barriers at the college and in East Multnomah County. On Friday, October 15, ACCT awarded MHCC the 2021 Charles Kennedy Equity Award. This award is granted to one community college in the U.S. with an outstanding equity program and recognizes exemplary commitments by the governing board and college CEO to achieving educational equity.

    “We all agree that this work is imperative,” said Board Chair Annette Mattson. “We want to make sure our board’s commitment to equity is reflected in all our processes at MHCC and evident in the resources and services the college provides.”

    Earlier this year, ACCT honored the college with the 2021 Pacific Region Equity award. MHCC was one of five colleges to receive a regional award. The national recipient was chosen out of these regional winners.

    "Community colleges are uniquely committed to open-access, high-quality higher education for all Americans, as well as a vital pipeline to the jobs that support communities and keep our country going strong," said 2020-21 ACCT Chair and Mohawk Valley Community College Trustee David Mathis. "This year's regional awardees represent the most outstanding people and programs across this great nation."

    MHCC was selected for the Charles Kennedy Equity Award based on their recent work in:

    • Creating a Student Basic Needs Resource Team.
    • Establishing a Multicultural Diversity Resource Center.
    • Adding African-American Cultural Courses.
    • Creating an Equity Lens tool.
    • Beginning work on a strategic equity plan.
    • Increased recruiting of employees from underrepresented or underserved populations across all employee groups and the Board of Education.
      • The most significant gains were seen in MHCC’s Board and management staff, where Board diversity quadrupled, and management diversity nearly doubled.
    • Implementing a yearlong Equity Minded Leadership series with the Board of Education, President’s Cabinet, and MHCC Equity Leadership Team.
    • Facilitating Foundations of Critical Race Theory sessions broadly with employees.
    • Increasing use of Open Educational Resources (OERs). 
      • It is estimated these OERs have saved students $3,118,975 in textbook costs.
    • Partnering with community organizations to increase services and resources. Partnerships include:
      • Multnomah County Health Authority offered COVID-19 vaccination clinics to BIPOC communities.
      • Rosewood Initiative to provide job search and unemployment assistance to address community concerns around the concentrated poverty and lack of services in East County.
      • Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) to offer vocational English-as-a-Second Language career pathway programs, translation services, and other initiatives in serving the needs of the immigrant and refugee communities in the district.
      • Area school districts to engage youth identifying as first-generation, from low-income households, or having a disability and offer them peer mentoring.
        • Mentors attend DEI training and workshops, such as a Becoming Anti-Racist series, and work with students to navigate school, career and college related topics.

    Additionally, last month MHCC recently received a $100,000 national award through the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge for new pre-apprenticeship programs to help English language learners build academic, language and workplace skills.

    “This award shines a light on the complex needs many residents in our district face every day,” said MHCC President Lisa Skari. “We are honored to receive this equity award, but this is just the beginning of our efforts to help students and potential students overcome barriers and reach their goals.”

    The equity award honors the late Charles Kennedy, a trustee of Joliet Junior College in Illinois, who was a founder of the ACCT Minority Affairs Assembly, which became the ACCT Diversity Committee.