Taking Bold Action to Advance Equity
ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning (the Center) is committed to showcasing and supporting ACT’s efforts to close opportunity and outcomes gaps for all individuals, including:
- students of color;
- first-generation students
- families with economic challenges; and
- exceptional and diverse learners.
The Center is building on ACT’s more than 60-year commitment to help people achieve education and career success and recognizes that specific systemic hurdles must be addressed and overcome so all learners benefit. Since the Center’s founding in 2016, we’ve said that the circumstances of a child’s birth should not determine college and career opportunities. Today, our work remains focused on highlighting success strategies, promoting equity infused research solutions, and investing in high impact equity organizations and leaders that design and accelerate efforts that achieve measurable improvements for all.
Research and Thought Leadership
The Center seeks to know and communicate actionable information about the realities, challenges, and opportunities facing learners in middle school, high school, college, and the workforce.
In addition, our research helps to guide thought leaders and informs equity-infused changes in policy and practice. Indeed, our research and collaboration efforts are designed to spark action and lead to measurable results. For example, the Center’s research, on school safety, financial aid, technology gaps, and the digital divide, provide a starting point for deeper conversations about how to support individual learners and by extension how to advance and strengthen the success of communities, states, and regions.
The Center asks tough questions of equity-minded organizations and encourages each organization to push ACT toward deeper engagement, more intentional initiatives and inclusive collaborations to close equity gaps and achieve measurable increases in positive education outcomes for all.
The Center’s collaborative stakeholders, present and past, include:
- American Council on Education (ACE)
- Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents;
- Better Make Room and Reach Higher;
- Civic Nation;
- College Advising Corps;
- College Horizons;
- College Promise Campaign;
- Council for Opportunity in Education;
- Excelencia in Education;
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce;
- National College Attainment Network;
- NCCEP; and
The American College Application Campaign (ACAC) is a major effort within the Center and is designed to increase the number of first-generation college students and students from low-income families pursuing a college degree or other higher education credential. Campaign events assist high school seniors as they navigate the college application and admissions process and ensure each participating student submits at least one admissions application.
In 2020, more than 5,600 high schools (almost one quarter of high schools in the U.S.) hosted an ACAC event that assisted more than 363,000 seniors with submitting at least one college application. This led to nearly 628,000 college applications being submitted during ACAC events in 2020 alone.
To date, over 3.69 million students have been served by ACAC and 5.99 million applications submitted since the inception in 2005. Together with the Center’s many partners, we will reach more students and help them fulfill their higher education and career aspirations.
Built on a History of Equity
More than 60 years ago, ACT’s co-founder E.F. Lindquist believed that college entrance exams should focus not on rewarding the brightest students, but instead “should clearly constitute an incentive to elementary and high school students to work harder at the job of getting ready for college.” ACT’s Center for Equity in Learning was launched in 2016 with that same commitment in mind, and today, the Center carries that tradition forward, working to ensure that all students have a pathway to a bright future.