Evolve Initiative

College Spark Washington and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) have partnered to launch the Evolve Initiative to support thriving equitable systems.

The Evolve Initiative aims to nurture equity-focused systems change that helps to create an environment where formal and informal leaders of color across all levels – including students, faculty, and staff – are supported and thriving.  The goal aligns efforts across the Washington community and technical college system to foster anti-racist leadership and institutions, responding to the unique voices, challenges, and needs of formal and informal leaders of color throughout the educational system.

“We are looking to help create whole-college transformation by building capacity for equity-focused systems change in ways that improve relationships, interactions, practices, and policies that share the college culture and experience,” said Warren Brown, chief executive officer of College Spark Washington, of the holistic approach.

Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges serve 273,000 students each year, half of whom are students of color.

Theory of Change: Bridging Leadership Development and Institutional Change 

By coupling equity-focused leadership development strategies with robust support and accountability for institutional change, the initiative seeks to enhance the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) competency of CTC leaders. This holistic approach aims to facilitate the growth and sustainability of leaders of color, steering the CTC system towards its stated racial equity goals.

Addressing Critical Needs in the CTC System: 

  • Responsive Leadership: Ensuring responsiveness to the voices, realities, challenges, and needs of formal and informal leaders of color throughout the entire system.
  • System-wide Support: Enabling system-wide support for leadership at multiple levels, positions, and individuals, fostering alignment in efforts to become anti-racist leaders and institutions.
  • Equity-Focused Mission Statements: Providing support and accountability to translate equity-focused mission statements and DEI plans into actionable and measurable outcomes.
“Our commitment to student success extends beyond traditional academic boundaries. This initiative represents a pivotal step towards creating an educational environment where leaders of color not only thrive but lead the way for others. By addressing the unique challenges faced by formal and informal leaders of color in our community college system, we contribute to a more inclusive and equitable educational landscape.”
Sophia Agtarap, SBCTC

Over the Next 12 Months: 

The initiative will involve a comprehensive approach:

  • Listening: Engaging with commissions, equity-focused groups, and individuals involved in aligned work to gather feedback and ideas.
  • Data Gathering: A third-party researcher will review data and gather perspectives on the ‘State of BIPOC Leadership’ in Washington’s CTC system.
  • Advisory Group Formation: Establishing an Advisory Group to contribute to and serve as a sounding board for initiative planning.
  • Finalizing Initiative Details: Based on feedback gathered during the planning year.

Intended Strategies: 

  • Growing Student Leadership: Expanding and sustaining strategies that support the growth and voice of student leaders of color. 
  • Supporting Emerging Equity-Focused Leaders: Backing existing and in-development equity-focused leadership development strategies. 
  • Building Colleges’ EDI Leadership Capacity: Focusing on providing resources, training, and support to a cohort of colleges engaged in equity-focused institutional change, enhancing the EDI capacity of their leaders. 

Additional strategies may be identified during the 12-month planning period. 

This collaboration reflects a shared commitment to advancing equity and inclusivity within Washington’s higher education system. College Spark Washington and SBCTC look forward to the positive impact this initiative will have on the growth and sustainability of leaders of color and the overall advancement of racial equity goals within the CTC system. 

For more information on this partnership and the initiative, please contact: 

SBCTC Contact: Sophia Agtarap – sagtarap@sbctc.edu 

College Spark Washington Contact: Heather Gingerich – heather@collegespark.org