Constance Carroll: Championing Education Equity in San Diego

Photo of group holding up signs spelling out P-R-O-M-I-S-E.
Mayor Faulconer and Dr. Constance Carroll join dozens of students and staff to celebrate the launch of the San Diego Promise program.

For Dr. Constance Carroll, Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and Immediate Past Chair of The San Diego Foundation Board of Governors, education has always been at the forefront of her life.

Growing up in segregated Maryland, she was just a teen when the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case changed the face of U.S. schooling. As a result, Constance was moved from an all-black school into an integrated high school and quickly learned what inequality in education meant.

That experience helped shape Constance and is now part of the reason she continues to work for equity and opportunity for all students, particularly the most underserved and underrepresented.

As SDCCD Chancellor, Constance is leading the transformation of California’s second-largest community college district and building a model for other institutions to follow.

During her tenure, Constance has conferred more than 67,000 degrees and certificates, and SDCCD has completed more than $1.55 billion in enhancements, from upgraded classrooms and labs to libraries and other student resources. Her impact is felt across San Diego and is embodied in the thousands of students who go on to transfer to a full four-year institution or obtain a well-paying job in our regional economy.

More Than a Promise

While Constance’s list of career achievements is long, there may be no greater example of her impact in the community than the new San Diego Promise program. Launched as a pilot in 2016 for under 200 youth, the program is designed to boost student success by providing individualized support, educational plans and two-year tuition. Today, San Diego Promise is benefiting thousands of San Diego Community College District students each academic year, most of whom would not have attended college if it were not for the program.

Nine in 10 San Diego Promise students are from underrepresented communities, including 61 percent who are Hispanic and 12 percent who are Asian/Pacific Islander, and approximately half come from families with a household income of less than $40,000 annually.

It’s an investment in the future of our region that is already paying dividends in San Diego County. As Constance explained in an article for Forbes, SDCCD alumni help fuel the regional economy, earning on average $400,000 more during their careers than someone with just a high school diploma.

Leadership at All Levels

Constance’s impact and achievements span local, state and national levels.

Dr. Constance Carroll standing in front of a poster honoring her
Dr. Constance Carroll was recently honored by the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce for her contributions to the community.

In 2011, she was nominated by then-President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate to serve a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities. She was also nominated by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to serve on the California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education Selection Committee. And most recently, Constance was presented the Lifetime Leadership Award by the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce for her impact and achievements in the region.

But what’s most telling about Constance’s commitment to community is her long list of board affiliations. In addition to her tireless efforts to expand educational opportunity through her work at SDCCD, Constance has been an active leader on numerous boards during her career, including San Diego Youth Services, San Diego Museum of Man, League for Innovation, and Urban League of San Diego County, among others.

We are honored to have such a distinguished leader and changemaker serving on our Board of Governors and representing The San Diego Foundation in the community.

Learn more about Constance