Common Cause: equity and anti-racist community engagement

This new publication from Campus Compact tackles a new topic each month and brings you resources and examples you can use in your work advancing the civic and community engagement mission of higher education. In this issue, we’re talking about how higher education contributes to equity and anti-racist practices.

Keeping equity as our focus

By Nicole Springer, Senior Director of Professional Development and Scholarship & Chief Equity Officer

common cause anti-racism
Black Lives Matter protesters​​

Just one week before the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision of affirmative action on July 12, 2023, Diverse Issues in Higher Education published an opinion article authored by the president of Campus Compact and the president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). This article reminded the many players in higher education of the “vital work” that diversity and civic and community engagement professionals do. In fact, a preliminary look at the landscape of higher education shows a host of institutions moving to align structurally and operationally the functions of their DEI offices with those of community and civic engagement. This alignment is one that enhances the equity work of higher education.

Campus Compact has been working to live out its value of equity in its current programming that supports student, professional, and institutional development. First, our Newman Civic Fellowship provides a diverse cohort of students the opportunity to connect with other civically engaged students dedicated to social change. Additionally, as the professional home for community engagement practitioners in the field, Campus Compact is committed to providing a holistic approach to our professional development initiatives that center on equity, inclusion, and belonging. Included in this approach has been the addition of an intercultural development fellow devoting her time to better understand the current landscape of how institutions incorporate intercultural development on campuses.

While we understand that individuals make up institutions, we also believe in the focus on institutional growth and connection to equity. During her tenure, Castel Sweet, 2023-2024 Strategy and Visioning Fellow, engaged members across the Compact in investigating the alignment of DEIB and civic and community Engagement. She spoke with leaders across the field who are operating within integrated structures. Her final report, which includes an inventory of institutions advancing operational and structural alignment, will be released in October.

As you continue to think about how equity is central to your work and that of your institution, start by asking the following questions:

  • Where are voices of the community present in your institutional civic action planning or overall institutional planning?

  • Where does engagement fall within your institution’s mission and values? Where does diversity, equity, and inclusion fall? Are they connected?

  • Does faculty training on service-learning and community engagement include discussions of how to address difficult conversations and dialogue (race, class, gender, sexual orientation, politics, etc.)?

  • In what ways does your institution have a reputation of harm with the community? Has that been acknowledged? If so, in what ways has the institution moved towards healing, reconciliation and resolution?

Creating anti-racist communities

These blog posts, written by chapter authors from our new publication, Anti-Racist Community Engagement: Principles & Practices, illustrate different approaches to building an equitable future for us all and how dedication to making a difference can create powerful impact in communities.

reading a story with a child

Creating a Community Project for Ourselves

Hear from chapter author Ada Vilageliu Díaz about how the Latinx Student Association at the University of the District of Columbia supported their community by understanding needs and creating their own community project to address them.More →


end racism sign

Inviting Dialogue for Racial Healing

Hear from chapter author Aaliyah Baker about how an anti-racism community of practice helped to create a cross-institutional approach to reimagine what it means to be with and within a community committed to anti-racism.More →



Claiming creative space is our ancestral right.

Hear from chapter author Alexandra C. Onuoha about dismantling traditional education practices that stifle creativity and expression, particularly for Black women. Plus, learn more about how claiming creative space can help to counteract oppressive traditions. More →



Unlearning to Grade in Anti-Racist Community-Engaged Courses

Hear from chapter authors Carmine Perrotti and jesús hernández about how they have used the practice of ungrading in an undergraduate course on the theory and practice of community-engaged scholarship at Brown University. More →

  • Campus Compact is seeking full-time CCAC AmeriCorps members who will host community environmental education events, conduct home energy assessments, including home energy assistance referrals, and implement low-tech home energy interventions to help advance public knowledge and increase motivation to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.

  • Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA member Amanda MacKenzie completed a project at Rockhurst University to create sustainability guides and organize an Environmental Symposium that brought together community members and nonprofit organizations to pursue solutions to local enviromental issues.

Building an equitable future

Learn more about equity-oriented work on campuses and in communities

  • Lewis University collaborated with community partners to create a traveling exhibit and digital collection called “Reclaiming the Narrative: Restoring Black Voices to the Story of Joliet” that examines the historical context of current social and economic challenges in the Joliet area.  The exhibit was built as students conducted site visits to digitize materials provided by Joliet community members. | More →

  • Presidents and Chancellors from across the country, including Compact members Javier Reyes, Chancellor of UMass Amherst, and Gene Block, Chancellor of UCLA, joined Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to launch the Department of Education’s Report on Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Opportunity in Higher Education | More →

Take action: Building an Equitable Future

These resources and model programs illustrate just some of the ways your campus community can contribute to building an equitable future for us all

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