Community College Research Initiatives

November 30, 2022

IDEAL Fellowship Program

With excitement, CCRI is looking forward to providing the Washington State Board for Community and Technical College’s evaluation of cohort 4 of the Initiative in Diversity, Equity, Antiracism & Leadership (IDEAL) fellowship program. The IDEAL fellowship program is designed to empower community college students with knowledge, critical discussions, and experience doing research to advance equity projects on their own campuses.

IDEAL provides fellows a place to learn about racial justice and share their own stories while being paid a $1000 stipend. Participants learn how to use tools to research equity issues on their campus and provide their community colleges with suggestions about how the institutions can increase educational access and supports to move them toward a more equitable education environment.

This pioneering student empowerment program was created by the IDEAL facilitators and educators Dr. Jeremiah and Rachel Sims. CCRI has had the privilege of talking to students from the first 3 cohorts and learning about the unique experience of being in a space anchored in openness, acceptance, and transparency, where they felt safe to share their personal narratives, listen actively to others, create friendships, learn, and gain confidence in how to be advocates for social justice. In interviews, participants shared how the Sims’ provide knowledge and understanding of systemic structures that perpetuate racial, social, and economic inequity while also creating a safe space for tough conversations. These conversations helped create community, increased participants’ equity focus within their academic journeys and careers, and helped to create change agents.

The structure of each cohort has changed to continue to support students and their projects to create institutional change. Cohorts 2 and 3 accepted students at 4-5 participating colleges and added Senior Fellows, alumni of the program, who helped students work on their institutional projects and final presentations. Cohort 3 also added institutional representatives, to provide fellows with an insider perspective of organizational change efforts, where to find data, and to help move the proposed work forward. In our most recent evaluation effort, we describe what we learned from cohort 3 students and the potential for institutional change.

Cohort 4 will begin in February 2023 and will consist of students from Yakima Valley College, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Bellevue College, South Puget Sound Community College, and Grays Harbor College. We look forward to learning about the experiences of the newest IDEAL fellows and how participating in IDEAL affects their education journeys and their institutions.