Our Path Forward

Our Path Forward

Our Path Forward

2021-2025 Strategic Plan

2021-2025 Strategic Plan

2021-2025 Strategic Plan

Explore Kennedy-King College’s transformative five-year strategic plan for 2021-2025. Download the full plan below for more information.


From the President

Gregory Thomas

President, Kennedy-King College

Kennedy-King College is extremely excited to present its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. As the President of Kennedy-King College, it was an honor to engage in this historic and collaborative process. Read More

President Gregory Thomas
Kennedy-King College

“Innovation is possible when we inspire pride and excellence on campus, and in our community, to make a sustainable impact.”

Mission Statement


As Kennedy-King College recently reached 50 years of its renaming, it found it essential to reframe the future identity and direction of the institution. Through a comprehensive process of stakeholder engagement that included faculty, staff, and students, the institution is pleased to formally recommend a new mission statement in parallel with this strategic plan.

Kennedy-King College transforms lives and communities through the power of education by providing accessible, culturally diverse, exceptional, and globally competitive programs that empower all learners to achieve their intellectual, social, and economic goals.

To read more about Kennedy-King’s new mission statement, download the full Strategic Plan.


My classes without a doubt provided me with a foundation to be able to step in on day one and be able to work with the team at my new employer. I haven’t felt overwhelmed because I had those classes to prepare me.

My classes without a doubt provided me with a foundation to be able to step in on day one and be able to work with the team at my new employer. I haven’t felt overwhelmed because I had those classes to prepare me.

My classes without a doubt provided me with a foundation to be able to step in on day one and be able to work with the team at my new employer. I haven’t felt overwhelmed because I had those classes to prepare me.

Johnny Horton,
Kennedy-King College alumnus, hired by City Colleges partner

Summary of Strategies

Six strategic levers form the framework for all of City Colleges’ plans. They serve as guiding principles and beliefs that are fundamental to the holistic success of our plans. The six strategic levers and their goals are:

Exceptional Student Experience
Economic Responsiveness
Institutional Health

Our Goal: Create an Exceptional Student Experience

We promise that every experience with City Colleges, from pre-admissions to completion, will be exceptional. Every student will be able to maximize their learning inside and outside the classroom, navigate our institution with ease, make significant progress towards their goals, and feel welcome and supported by all City Colleges employees.

Develop a new first-year experience program for all first-time full-time and part-time students to acclimate them to the College’s culture and promote student success and retention.

Increase wraparound services for students dealing with external barriers and challenges that impact their success.

Develop an advising model to guide, support, and educate students.

Increase student engagement to enhance students’ sense of belonging.

Improve Adult Education students’ in-term attrition and improve yearly retention rates.

Increase the number of relevant and in-demand certificate programs and personal and professional development courses.

Implement a comprehensive, targeted transfer program for students whose intent is to transfer after degree completion (30+ credit hours/2.8+ GPA).

Our Goal: Significantly Narrow Achievement Gaps

We will become a “student-ready” and equitable institution that is designed for all students to thrive—especially those from historically and present-day marginalized communities. We will equip students with the support and resources they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

It is well documented that Men of Color (MOC) underperform every other demographic with respect to persistence and completion—and KKC is no exception. This strategy consists of creating a male affinity group to provide peer and professional mentoring, creating a space for interaction with MOC and faculty/staff, and increasing focus on MOC as holders of cultural wealth within their communities.

Data from the SEM process shows evidence of growth opportunity by special populations. This includes a growing Latinx demographic in West Englewood, increased veteran populations with nearly 21,000 veterans eligible to use the GI bill in Illinois, increased pipeline opportunity for justice-involved youth who need to reengage in the education process, and a growing population of minority males not in school and not working termed “opportunity youth” ages 16-24.

KKC recognizes that students come to the College with similar goals—economic mobility, career-readiness, baccalaureate degree completion, etc.—though their pathways may differ. This strategy seeks to address these unique challenges with strategic partnerships, additional supports, and professional development for faculty and staff to understand our students’ needs.

It is imperative that KKC puts financial literacy workshops in place to support students as they manage the payment process, verification process, and Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) process for a more seamless transition to college and overall retention.

The tactics developed will significantly impact our Transition to College KPI and strategic objectives by creating individualized pathways to reaching the adult secondary National Reporting System (NRS) level, a requirement for Gateway Scholars. They will also expose Adult Education students to the rigor of college credit courses that will increase their probability of becoming a successful college student.

Early College students are more likely to enroll in college and complete a post-secondary degree compared to their peers who do not take college coursework while in high school. These strategic initiatives are designed to increase college access and success for students who might not experience college otherwise.

A survey conducted this year by District Child Development showed that over 75% of respondents were interested in childcare services, with 25% indicating that they would be interested in evening hours care. Community colleges enroll students who are parents of young children, which is why KKC is set to increase access to a variety of childcare services – allowing more student-parents to attend their courses and complete degree programs.

Our Goal: Respond to Economic Needs of the City

We will be forward-looking and agile in developing pathways and forging partnerships that unlock transformational career opportunities for CCC students and fuel the Chicago workforce with talent that is prepared to meet the needs of the economy.

Partnering with industry and corporate stakeholders will provide KKC students with work-based learning experiences, and position the College’s two Centers of Excellence for continuous improvement.  Additionally, the Center of Equity in the Creative Arts and the Tech Launchpad will provide new academic and career opportunities for students.  Lastly, cultivating relationships with new and existing industry and corporate stakeholders will help push students towards economic mobility.

KKC developed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to communicate key initiatives, actions, activities, and priorities with community leaders and stakeholders. In addition, the CAC provides community representatives with an opportunity to help guide our actions and priorities, and to provide a forum with the capacity for the College and community leaders to collaborate and address the challenges facing the South Side of Chicago.

The tactics developed will impact our enrollment KPI by implementing an on-boarding orientation process to address students’ needs, build camaraderie among them, motivate them, and expose them to all of the campus’ supportive programs. This process will also help to build and sustain positive relationships among staff and students.

Four academic areas (Center of Equity for the Creative Arts, Dawson Technical Institute, Tech Launchpad, and Washburne Culinary and Hospitality) have been identified as institutional enrollment and equity priorities. KKC will provide students with meaningful new work-based learning opportunities and greater exposure to the industry by developing relationships with industry partners that will offer experiential learning opportunities in these academic areas.

Goal: Build a Culture of Excellence

We will build a culture of excellence that inspires everyone to become the ‘best in class’ for our students and community. We hold ourselves accountable to delivering academics, experiences, and services of the highest quality. Our faculty and staff will continue to receive professional development across the district to continuously improve their practices.

As one of City Colleges’ Centers of Excellence, the Washburne Culinary and Hospitality Institute (WCHI) can identify strategic partners in the hospitality industry and cultivate new relationships that support enhanced facilities and equipment, student and workforce opportunities, and certificate and degree programs that target adult, Latinx, and local communities. WCHI intends to market programs that offer instruction in their native language, and enhance outreach efforts of our baking and pastry program.

Labs and classrooms are generally too small for section sizes and flexible teaching/learning with other cohort classes and instructors. Increasing capacity within DTI can better allocate faculty and classrooms to meet students’ course needs. Currently, the capacity affects how classes are scheduled, and the use of instructional space can dictate how DTI programs enroll and complete students.

Establishing a new Center of Equity for Creative Arts (CECA) will educate, expose, and empower students and Chicago’s South Side Community to foster excellence and equity in the creative arts. The Center—offering Expanding Academic Pathways for Media & Visual Communications, Humanities, and Fine Arts & Theatre—will propel intergenerational community engagement, provide an arts incubator platform for artistic creative expression, and serve as a host location for creative arts performance.

KKC has identified tremendous opportunities to bridge racial and gender gaps, while addressing a shortage in skilled IT professionals needed to meet the industry’s demands. The Tech Launchpad places a new academic, equity, and workforce readiness focus on several IT pathways. We project that we will see increases in enrollment for both credit and Continuing Education options, as well as increased program completion and economic mobility for students.

KKC will strengthen services provided by essential staff in order to better support both internal/external customers. An enhanced campus-specific safety plan and a new Vice President of Administrative Operations will improve the College’s capacity to be more effective and efficient.

Strengthening connections between employees and KKC directly shapes their perceptions of the departments, organization, and their jobs. This influence can magnify employee commitment, which in term maximizes the impact, the organization, and the day-to-day work that affect employee performance and retention.

Whether in-person or virtually, effective faculty-student, student-student, and student-content interactions are key to achievement, retention, and success. Enhancing data-driven faculty development opportunities will better prepare our faculty to teach our current students, and in turn, improve educational quality.

This strategic objective focuses on developing sustained assessment processes to evaluate and improve student learning. Using data-based decisions to assess student learning will help us continuously improve teaching and learning. Furthermore, it will demonstrate to internal and external constituents that our College has effective current learning methods and the agility and capacity to improve learning methods found to be ineffective.

Goal: Create a Collaborative and Connected Ecosystem

We will create a more collaborative and connected ecosystem to foster coordination and communication that supports student success. At each college and across the district, we will implement people, data, and technology solutions to create holistic best practices with an inclusive approach to problem solving.

Establishing a governance model allows KKC to weigh institutional priorities against the interests of multiple stakeholders, offer greater transparency, improve institutional communication, foster collaboration, and ultimately create stronger institutional synergy. The College has identified a new KPI for this strategic objective to measure the institutional effectiveness relative to the successful implementation of a shared governance model.

With high expectations on KKC’s customer service performance, employees, managers, and leaders will act as conduits to strengthen their customer service commitment to our students. This mindset will boost and impact the student experience, amplify positive aspects of the College, connect students to talented colleagues, facilitate open communication, build trust across all service areas, and serve to improve morale and retention.

Goal: Develop, Monitor, and Improve Institutional Health Measures

We will develop, monitor, and improve critical institutional health metrics that ensure financial sustainability and the well-being of our institution.

Currently, KKC does not have a robust communication plan in place for student contact and lacks a cohesive plan for building awareness for the entire academic portfolio. Therefore, it is critical to establish short-term initiatives across various platforms to promote our programs and campus initiatives.

During the KKC SEM process, a campus SWOT revealed that our brand awareness is not strong. Having a campus-level social media strategy will help us grow our brand awareness, increase traffic on our website and programs, promote campus initiatives, and allow messaging to reach our audiences more quickly and efficiently.

KKC seeks partnerships that provide financial resources for academic and institutional advancement—as a direct response to the dramatic and historical changes to the public higher education funding landscape. The College will strive to be more ethically entrepreneurial, pursing funding in the context of the institution’s mission and the greater good of the College.

KKC lacks consistent messaging that resonates with our campus, community, and external stakeholders across multiple platforms. An integrated marketing plan will allow us to build our brand image and communicate a consistent brand message across multiple channels—including phone, email, web, social media, traditional media, and print—to focus on results.

The Continuing Education Department is an enterprise entity. Our overall goal is to increase revenue by creating community and corporate partnerships that provide mutually beneficial training opportunities for employers to gain skilled workers.

To read more about the strategies and tactics that Kennedy King College will use to achieve its objectives, download the full Strategic Plan.


City Colleges of Chicago

Discover the Strategic Plans for the seven institutions that make up City Colleges of Chicago