Advancing Institutional Equity and Belonging

The AACC Advancing Institutional Equity and Belonging Award, formerly named Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award, recognizes the college that has contributed significantly and over a sustained period to advancing equity in community college leadership, the community, and higher education as well as creating an environment where students and employees of all backgrounds get a seat at the table and feel heard, seen, and recognized for their contributions.

Criteria used to evaluate applications are as follows:

  • Demonstrates an ongoing commitment with dedicated resources and measurable outcomes to increase equitable outcomes within the college and the greater community.
  • The college mission statement articulates dedication to social equity for all students and personnel.
  • Fosters an environment of belonging for students, employees, and the community.
  • Models innovative and progressive practices that support institutional equity.
  • Maintains and advocates for policies that support equity and belonging at the local, state, and national levels.


  • Previous winners in this category are eligible to apply again five years after winning in the award category.


  • Award finalists in a previous year can apply in the same category for the subsequent year. However, the finalist must submit an enhanced application. Enhanced means that the applicant must show further strengthening of the diversity and equity initiatives on the campus.

General Guidelines and Nomination Instructions:

  • Nominee must be a current AACC member college and pay next year's membership fee.
  • Nomination form must be signed electronically by the CEO of the nominating institution.
  • Each award is given annually, and the honoree(s) will be recognized at the AACC Annual.
  • Nominating package (excluding required photos) must be submitted through the nomination form AND include the following:
    • Nomination form
    • Minimum two letters of support on official letterhead, one signed by the nominating college CEO.
    • Additional support materials (i.e., news coverage, fact sheet, descriptions) NOT TO exceed five (5) pages - with all identifying information (names, institution name, location) redacted.
    • Five publication-quality photos - No PDFs: (1) publication-quality headshot of the CEO [300 dpi resolution or higher], (1) publication-quality photo of the college (signature building), and (3) photos of activities that promote equity and belonging at the college.

Complete your college's submission using the nomination form provided above.

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