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The Politics of Affirmative Action: Access to Higher Education in the States 

In February of 2010, the Howard Samuels Center, with the generous support of the Ford Foundation, convened the Achieving Wider Access to Higher Educationconference, bringing together a wide range of community organizers, practitioners, educators and scholars to discuss strategies to promote access to higher education throughout the United States. This conference was part of our continuing effort to examine issues of access to higher education and a follow up to our 2008 conference, Expanding Inclusion in Higher Education: Initiatives and Referenda/Strategy and Alternatives, which convened stakeholders from many states including legislators, community activists and local organizations to exchange and disseminate information about affirmative action policies and legislation.

Our 2010 conferences was attended by leaders involved in education policy initiatives at the national, state and local levels, and addressed several critical issues in higher education. The role historically inclusive higher education institutions like community colleges and minority-serving colleges and universities can play as models was discussed; participants made presentations on under-represented populations who suffer limited access to higher education, but are sometimes overlooked, including undocumented immigrants, ex-offenders, and inhabitants of rural communities; supporters of affirmative action shared the broad-based constituency building strategies they used to oppose anti-affirmative action legislation. Thanks to the participation of so many dedicated people, the Achieving Wider Access to Higher Education conference accomplished the goal we had envisaged for it, providing an opportunity for pro-access constituencies, academics and community leaders to collaborate and develop innovative and effective strategies to increase access and develop an a national higher education constituency.

Below you will find links to the Howard Samuels Center's report on The Politics of Affirmative Action, the proceedings from the 2008 conference, as well as an agenda from the 2010 conference and many presentations from the 2010 conference.