In 2017, Ed Trust–West released the first in our “Hear My Voice” series of reports, looking at how K-12 districts, higher education institutions, and state leaders could better support young men of color on their paths to and through college. Both California’s academic outcome data and the qualitative research we conducted for that report highlighted alarming gaps Black, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander young men face – gaps in expectations and opportunities that limited their success. 

In Hear My Voice, and in our higher education work since its release, we’ve issued a clear call for colleges to prioritize equity by “[launching] institution-wide efforts focused on setting gap-closing goals and monitoring progress around improving opportunities for students of color.” Now, a new report from the California State University (CSU), takes a significant step forward on supporting the success of tens of thousands of Black students across the state. 

We applaud the California State University and all 23 campuses for their timely and targeted commitment to advancing Black student success. The recently released report on supporting Black students from the Chancellor’s Strategic Workgroup is a hugely important move for prioritizing equity in our state. We appreciate that the CSU is doing what many institutions of higher education shy away from – putting in the difficult but necessary work of taking an intentional, institution-wide look in the mirror, listening to students, and committing to taking action. 

The report’s recommendations lay out a clear path forward that we are excited about. Notably, we appreciate the CSU’s plan to develop a comprehensive retention and persistence strategy for Black students, and look forward to seeing how campuses create welcoming and affirming spaces and develop and implement inclusive and culturally relevant curriculum across campuses. Furthermore, the CSU’s disaggregation of Black student data to arrive at these recommendations, and their plan to develop a process for systemwide data-driven practices and accountability, demonstrates the power and potential for data-driven decision making to advance equity. 

We are hopeful that this report is just the beginning of a new focus on Black student success at the CSU. As such, we are excited about the continuation of the Black Student Success Workgroup and hope to see CSU Trustees both participate in the Workgroup and share regular progress updates at CSU meetings. As incoming Chancellor Dr. Mildred García said upon her appointment, “the CSU is a powerful engine of change and upward mobility for California and the nation.”  We are eager to see how Chancellor García embraces this latest effort to support Black students and actualizes those sentiments through implementation of the report’s recommendations. 

As with any report, the promise of these recommendations will only be realized if CSU Trustees and campus leaders see the report and Workgroup as a launching pad for further action. We look forward to working with the Black Student Success Workgroup and supporting the CSU to become a nationwide leader in Black student outreach, recruitment, enrollment, persistence, success, and graduation.