Achieve60AZ works to close attainment gaps

Achieve60AZ, a grassroots alliance working to get 60 percent of adults to hold either a degree, license or certificate by 2030, is working to close the attainment gap for minority populations.

“Big state goals, while they’re really great, probably needed to have a little bit more nuance so that equity would be at the forefront of the conversation in ensuring that people furthest from attainment are front and center in the work,” Achieve60AZ Executive Director Rachel Yanof said. 

Achieve60AZ is working with Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and Lumina Foundation to organize three groups focused on increasing attainment for their respective communities: Latinx, Native American and African American.

“It is impossible to reach our attainment goal without engaging these communities and working to close attainment gaps for minorities,” Vince Yanez, Helios Education Foundation Senior Vice President of Arizona Community Engagement, said in a statement. “The data show that these gaps are there, and we need to address them.”

According to Achieve60AZ, in Arizona 17 percent of Native Americans, 26 percent of Latinx and 33 percent of African Americans hold at least an associate degree while White Arizonans’ attainment is at more than 50 percent. 

“We need to be thinking about those people for whom attainment has been farthest away and making sure that’s not a system that we just keep perpetuating, but that we’re actually shining a bright light so that we can figure out as a state how do we ensure that more and more Latinx, Native American and African America learners can have success through attainment?” Yanof said. 

The three working groups — Achieve60AZ Native American Attainment Equity Working Group, Achieve60AZ Latinx Attainment Equity Working Group and Achieve60AZ African American Attainment Equity Working Group —are comprised of community leaders from across the state working to create goals and priorities that create a path that takes equity into account.

“What we’re most excited for at Achieve is where the synergy will be between all three groups and the power of all three groups addressing what they really think are key things that need to happen in order to move the needle for their groups,” Yanof said. 

Over the next few months, each of the groups will establish community priorities to reach the statewide attainment goal while also focusing on creating goals for their individual minority groups. 

“My biggest hope for the future of this work is that we can really uncover some key actions that can be taken at all different levels to move the attainment needle for everyone,” Yanof said.

Emily Richardson

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