Kennedy-King College Ranks No. 1 Community College In The State

Kennedy-King College was recognized by the Chicago City Council for its ranking No. 1 Community College in Illinois by Forbes Magazine through Academic Influence. It has developed programs with a focus on equity to ensure students and the community have access to educational opportunities that were not available in the past. Photos provided by City Colleges of Chicago
Kennedy-King College was recognized by the Chicago City Council for its ranking No. 1 Community College in Illinois by Forbes Magazine through Academic Influence. It has developed programs with a focus on equity to ensure students and the community have access to educational opportunities that were not available in the past. Photos provided by City Colleges of Chicago

Kennedy-King College Ranks No. 1 Community College In The State

By Tia Carol Jones
Kennedy-King College, located at 6301 S. Halsted, has been named the No. 1 Community College by Forbes Magazine. The community college also ranked No. 8 in the nation, according to Academic Influence, which conducted the rankings. On Tuesday, Sept. 14, a resolution was adopted by the City Council during a City Council meeting.


Dr. Gregory Thomas is the president of Kennedy-King College. Over the last three years, Kennedy-King College made a concerted and intentional effort to focus on fostering equity to students as well as to the community.
Kennedy-King College developed a strategic enrollment management plan, which was designed to foster opportunities of access and success among the students in the community. The college recognized that access to education leads to social mobility. The community that Kennedy-King College serves has one of the highest poverty rates in the city.


“We thought it was paramount that we make sure that our doors are open to this community and the community is fully aware of the fact that we’re here to serve them,” Thomas said.


Kennedy-King College also developed a strategic plan centered on equity, and a specific equity plan. The three documents guide the college, and they work collaboratively together as an integrative planning model for the college.


Kennedy-King College launched a new IT initiative for the College, which was designed to create opportunities for its students with the scope to include high demand areas within IT security -- cybersecurity, cloud security and gaming -- as well as certifications.


“That was driven by the data that showed among people of color and women, the level of representation within the IT industry is dismal, particularly among African Americans and Latinx residents of our community, nationally, not just locally,” Thomas said.


Kennedy-King College wanted to do its part to foster equity within the IT sector and ensure the pipeline was created for the community so its members could have access to the opportunities in the economy.


Kennedy-King College also created the Center of Equity for Creative Arts, partnering with the entertainment industry leaders to bring productions to campus. The College collaborated with Showtime to film “Work in Progress” at its Sound Stage.


“Again, we’re bringing those kinds of opportunities to the South Side of Chicago and making sure our students and our community members have access to these kinds of opportunities that they have not traditionally had,” Thomas said.


Kennedy-King College is starting to see a gradual uptick in the enrollment numbers, but it will take some time to get the word out about the new programs.


There also is an effort to enhance outreach to African American males, who have the highest attrition rates at the college, by providing support mechanisms that will foster their success.


Kennedy-King College’s focus on equity in a definitive and strategic way to bring opportunities to students and the community has garnered the attention of ranking model of Forbes magazine, through Academic Influence.


Kennedy-King College also has the attention of the Mackenzie Scott’s Foundation, which donated $5 million to the College.


“Hopefully the things we’re doing are drawing the attention to the fact that we’re really trying to be an engine when it comes to creating opportunities that have not been available to some members of our society,” Thomas said.

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