We work better together when we operate from a common understanding of key terms. To amplify our collective efforts, we maintain a glossary of key terms related to talent development. These definitions are approved by the Governor's Workforce Cabinet Working Group members.

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Adult Basic Education (ABE). A component of adult education; instruction in basic skills below the 9th grade level (0-8.9).

Adult Education. Services or instruction below the postsecondary level for individuals who have attained 16 years of age and are not enrolled or required to be enrolled in secondary school under State law PLUS one of the following: 1) lack sufficient mastery of basic educational skills to enable the individuals to function effectively in society; 2) do not have a secondary school diploma or its recognized equivalent and have not achieved an equivalent level of education; OR 3) are unable to speak, read, or write the English language.

Adult Secondary Education (ASE). A component of adult education; instruction in basic skills at or above the 9th grade level (9.0-12.9), Adult High School (AHS), and high school equivalency preparation.

Apprenticeship. An employer-driven model and form of experiential learning that combines on-the-job learning as a paid employee with related classroom instruction in order to increase an apprentice’s skill level and wages. (See pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship)

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Badge. A recognition designed to be displayed as a marker of accomplishment, activity, achievement, skill, interest, association, or identity.

Open Badge. An Open Badge is a visual symbol containing verifiable claims in accordance with the Open Badges specification and delivered digitally.

Digital Badge. A badge offered in digital form.

Business Experiential Learning (BEL) Commission. The Business Experiential-Learning Commission will develop, evaluate and implement a systemic solution for integrated work-based education and training to meet the needs of Colorado’s economy. The Commission focuses on three main areas: engaging business involvement in educating and training students and workers in partnership with the State’s K-16 education system, workforce system and related civic agencies; creating electronic access for students, interns, apprentices and workers to document skills they have obtained in the workplace, and to share that information with the K-16 system to support curriculum development; and leveraging existing resources to create a portal of information to connect students, job seekers, schools, employers, and civic agencies with experiential learning, training opportunities, and careers.

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Career Awareness and Exploration. Career awareness and exploration helps individuals build awareness of the variety of careers available and provides experiences that help inform an individual's’ career decisions. Activities include: career counseling; career planning; career fairs; career presentations; industry speakers; informational interviews; mentoring; and worksite tours.

Career Counseling and Planning. An iterative cycle that helps individuals throughout their career journey, understand how their personal interests, skills, abilities, and values might align to academic and career fields they are considering and how to form their academic and career goals accordingly. 

Career and Technical Education (CTE). Educational opportunities for students in middle school, high school, and college that focuses on contextualizing academic standards and providing relevant technical knowledge and skills needed to prepare for careers in current or emerging professions or further education. In Colorado, CTE programs of study align to six sector areas: Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy; STEM, Arts, Design & Information Technology; Skilled Trades & Technical Sciences; Health Science, Criminal Justice & Public Safety; Hospitality, Human Services & Education; Business, Marketing & Public Administration. (For more information see - www.coloradostateplan.com www.acteonline.org ). Work-based learning has always been an integral component of quality CTE programs. All CTE programs are required to demonstrate WBL opportunities are available for students.

Career Fair. A job fair, also referred commonly as a career fair or career expo, is speed dating for companies and professionals job seekers. A job fair is an event in which employers, recruiters, and schools give information to potential employees and learn about available career opportunities. (See work-based learning)

Career Pathway. A series of connected education and training programs, work experiences, and student support services that enable individuals to secure a job or advance in a demand industry or occupation. See Career Pathway System, Career Pathway Program, Career Pathway Map (See colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Career_Pathways_Step-by-Step_Guide_v3_2016_e.pdf)

Career Pathway Map. An online or paper map of how occupations connect to one another and what education and training is needed to prepare students or job seekers for occupations. Statewide career pathway maps focusing on the top industries in Colorado will be accessed on Careers in Colorado - careersincolorado.org

Career Pathway Program. A career pathway program is a set of stackable credits and credentials, combined with support services that enables students to secure industry-relevant skills, certifications, and credentials and advance to higher levels of education and employment.

Career Pathway System. A career pathway system engages education and training providers in a continuous conversation with one another and with industry to ensure that students move seamlessly through and among educational institutions and work-based experiences to build skills and credentials that meet industry demand and prepare them for jobs and careers.

Career Preparation. Career preparation supports career readiness and includes extended direct interaction with professionals from industry and the community. Activities include: clinical experiences; credit-for-work experiences; internships; and project-based learning. (See work-based learning)

Career Training. Career training occurs at a work site and prepares individuals for employment. Activities include: pre-apprenticeship; apprenticeship; on-the-job training; and employee development. (See work-based learning)

Certificate. A renewable non-degree credential awarded by an authoritative body to an individual or organization for demonstrating the designated knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform a specific job. Certificates are categorized into: less than one year; at least one but less than two years; at least two but less than 4 years; post-graduate certificate; and post-bachelor certificate. National research on certificates continues to be expanded and can be found through Credential Engine

Class. A generic term for either a workshop, or one course of a program of learning for English language skills, basic or remedial academic skills, High School Equivalency preparation, computer literacy, occupational skills, etc. May or may not result in a credential.

Clinical Experiences. One of the more critical experiences for healthcare science students is exposure to patients in a clinical setting. This type of experience will allow you to ensure that you enjoy working with patients and that you are well suited for a career in medicine. (See work-based learning)

College. A public or private postsecondary institution authorized to award certificates, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees.

College and Career Readiness (CCR). Career- and college-ready high school graduates have the skills, knowledge and abilities needed to succeed in life, whether attending college or starting a job. This readiness is based on a larger, community-focused approach that offers students the academic preparation, skills training, life planning, and social support and resources, beginning as children and continuing through adulthood.

College and Career Readiness Standards. Includes: 1) a representation of the knowledge, cognitive strategies, and employability skills a student needs in order to enroll and succeed — without remediation — in a credit-bearing course at a postsecondary institution, or in a high quality certificate program that enables students to enter a career pathway with potential future advancement; and 2) demonstration of knowledge and skills (competencies) needed to succeed in postsecondary settings and to advance in career pathways as lifelong learners and contributing citizens. (See www.cde.state.co.us/postsecondary/grad-menu)

Colorado First and Existing Industry Grants (CFEI). The Colorado First and Existing Industry job training assistance grant program is designed to support economic development efforts by enhancing companies’ economic competitiveness, creating and maintaining quality jobs, and promoting job retention throughout Colorado. (See www.cccs.edu/partnering-for-success/training-funds/)

Colorado Workforce Development Council (CWDC). The vision of CWDC is that every Colorado business has access to a skilled workforce and every Coloradan has access to meaningful employment, resulting in statewide economic vitality. CWDC’s mission is to facilitate the creation and sustainability of a business‐led Colorado talent development system that appropriately integrates the work of economic development, education, training, and workforce development to meet the needs of businesses, workers, job seekers, and students.

Community-Based Service. Providing community-based services refers to having high quality services accessible to families in the least restrictive setting possible. A community-based system of care requires systems to see the home, school, and neighborhood of the family from an asset perspective.

Competency-based education. Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment, early college high schools, project-based learning, and credit recovery, among others. Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions. Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students and assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students. (See www.ed.gov/oii-news/competency-based-learning-or-personalized-learning)

Competency-based training. Training programs with identified and defined competencies through a job/task analysis and directly related to the job/role. Organized learning activities should be structured and wherever possible, self-paced with open entry and open exit. Measures or tests of competency attainment should be observable, repeatable, and agreed to in advance. Work experience process schedules and related instruction outlines should include the approximate time/hours or minimum - maximum times/hours for each competency attained in order to document successful completion. (See www.doleta.gov/oa/apprentices.cfm)

Comprehensive One Stop Center (aka American Job Center, Workforce Center). Workforce Investment and Opportunities Act (WIOA) mandated center in each local area that provides an array of employment services, connects customers to work related training and education, and provides access to the services of all required partners. (For more information see www.doleta.gov/wioa/Docs/WIOA_OneStop_FactSheet.pdf)

Credential. Document, certificate or qualification recognizing attainment of measurable skills.

Credit-for-Work Experiences. Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) means credit for work experience, and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), refers to the assessments required to approve the work place learning for credit. CPL and PLA are distinctly different from transfer or applied credit, which recognizes and allows a student to apply relevant college course credit from a different school or earlier course work to a student's credential requirements. (See work-based learning)

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Associate of Applied Science CDHE ASSOCIATES - (SURDS 11) Associate Degree An award level that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Associate of General Studies CDHE ASSOCIATES - 03 - (SURDS 12) Associate Degree An award level that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Associate Degree(AA or AS) CDHE ASSOCIATES Associate Degree An award level that normally requires at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Bachelor's Degree CDHE BACHELORS - 05 - (SURDS 21) Bachelor's Degree An award level that normally requires at least 4 but not more than 5 years of full-time equivalent college-level work.

Master's Degree CDHE MASTERS -Master's Degree An award level that requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least the full-time equivalent of 1 but not more than 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.

Specialist Degree CDHE MASTERS - Master's Degree An award level that requires the successful completion of a program of study of at least the full-time equivalent of 1 but not more than 2 academic years of work beyond the bachelor's degree.

First-Professional Degree CDHE FIRST PROFESSIONAL - 10 - (SURDS 41)    

Doctoral Degree CDHE DOCTORATE - 09 - (SURDS 51) Doctoral Degree A credential awarded by examination that demonstrates that an individual has acquired secondary school-level academic skills.

Doctoral - research/scholarship CDHE DOCTORATE Research Doctorate A doctoral degree conferred for advanced work beyond the master level, including the preparation and defense of a thesis or dissertation based on original research, or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement.

Doctoral - professional practice CDHE DOCTORATE Professional Doctorate A doctoral degree conferred upon completion of a program providing the knowledge and skills for the recognition, credential, or license required for professional practice.

Doctoral - other CDHE DOCTORATE Doctoral Degree A credential awarded by examination that demonstrates that an individual has acquired secondary school-level academic skills.

Digital Inclusion. Activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (e.g, connectivity/infrastructure & equipment).  

Digital Literacy. Ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills (e.g., digital skills for daily life & digital skills for education, training, and work).

Digital Skills for Daily Life. Individual can securely access information, communicate, and problem solve using technology.

Digital Skills for Education, Training, and Work. Individual can comfortably create, collaborate, and communicate using a variety of digital tools. Individual has a lifelong learning mindset and applies it to digital skill development to advance their career.

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Economic Development Regions. 14 regions identified by OEDIT as a part of the Colorado Blueprint; consistent with the DOLA Regions.

Educational Component of Work-based Learning. Learning to inform participant of career pathway or skills within a pathway. This may vary greatly depending upon context, e.g., on the job training, classroom-based training program, etc.

Employee Development. Employee development is defined as a process where the employee with the support of his/her employer undergoes various training programs to enhance his/her skills and acquire new knowledge and skills. (See work-based learning)

Equity. When everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, has the opportunity to thrive. Equity recognizes that some individuals have an advantage because of their identity, while others face barriers. Unlike equality, which suggests giving the same thing to everyone, equity works to provide opportunities to those facing barriers by providing additional resources to those who do not have these advantages. This requires eliminating barriers like poverty and repairing systemic injustices.

Experiential-Learning. A process through which one develops knowledge and skills from direct experiences outside a traditional academic setting. This can include internships and other professional work experiences. Well-planned, supervised, and assessed experiential learning programs can promote interdisciplinary learning, civic engagement, career development, cultural awareness, leadership, and other professional and intellectual skills. (See work-based learning)

Externship. A form of experiential learning in the workplace that provides for the application of knowledge and skills in real world environments for the development of career and college readiness.


Incumbent Worker. An individual already employed by a qualifying employer.

Incumbent Worker Training. Training for an individual already employed by a qualifying employer.

Individual Career and Academic Plans (ICAP). A multi-year process that intentionally guides students and families in the exploration of career, academic and postsecondary opportunities. With the support of adults, students develop the awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and skills to create their own meaningful and powerful pathways to be career and college ready.

Industry. Any general business activity or commercial enterprise that can be isolated from others, such as the tourist industry or the entertainment industry. Colorado looks at Industry by 14 economic regions and the 14 major industries that drive our economy. (See choosecolorado.com/)

Industry-defined competencies. Specific knowledge, skills, and abilities that industry leaders have collectively identified as being critical to performing a specific occupation or group of occupations effectively. These competencies are both foundational and task specific.

Individual Education Plan (IEP). A plan required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students receiving special education services. The plan details a student’s goals and the services available to support the students success.

Internship. An opportunity in real world environments for exposure to the requirements of a particular occupation or industry, the work environment and the behavioral expectations for success on the job. Such work experiences are not expected to provide formal training for occupational skills, although some skills may be learned. (See work-based learning)

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Job Seeker. A person who is unemployed and looking for work.

Job Shadowing. A work experience option where students learn about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker. Variations include: 1) Virtual Job Shadowing. Digital version of job shadowing that allows an individual to observe an occupation through the use of videos. This is a specific software platform available to customers of workforce centers and other job exploration organizations; and 2) Job Simulation. Version of career exploration that allows an individual to participate and gain experience in aspects of an occupation through simulation. (See work-based learning)

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Labor Market Area. An economically integrated geographic area within which individuals can reside and find employment within a reasonable distance or can readily change employment without changing their place of residence.

Labor Market Information (LMI). 1) The body of information that deals with the functioning of labor markets and the determination of the demand for and supply of labor. It includes, but is not limited to, such key factors as changes in the level and/or composition of economic activity, the population, employment and unemployment, income and earnings, wage rates, and fringe benefits. 2) A department within the Colorado Department of Labor & Employment that manages Labor Market Information.

Local Elected Official. Locally elected government official in the context of the public workforce system, including city and county mayor/or appointed representative of the city and county, board of county commissioner, or acquainted representative of local board of county commissioner.

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Mentorships. A form of experiential learning that provides for the application of knowledge and skills in real world environments for the development of career and college readiness. (See work-based learning)

Mentor. Cognitive coaching and stability through a career journey provided by one individual to another.

Sponsor. Help create sustainable funding of career pathway opportunities, usually a company.

Middle Skills Jobs. Jobs that generally require some education and training beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree.

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On-the-Job Training. Training in the public or private sector that is given to a paid employee while he or she is engaged in productive work and provides knowledge and skills essential to the full and adequate performance on the job. (See work-based learning)

One-Stop Center. A facility that makes a wide range of the system's services available at a single site, through self-service or with staff help. The number of centers, the services offered, and the manner in which they are given will vary from one area to another, according to local needs and resources. (See wsd.dli.mt.gov/wia/wioa-glossary-terms-definitions.pdf)

One-Stop Operator. An entity performing specific functions or services defined by a local board in an American Jobs Center/Workforce center. One or more entities designated or certified under section 121(d) of WIOA. One-stop operators are responsible at minimum for the coordination of all activities in a one-stop center.

One-Stop System. The network of workforce products and services that meets business and job seeker needs in whatever manner and location is most effective and convenient for the customer, within a local workforce development area. (See wsd.dli.mt.gov/wia/wioa-glossary-terms-definitions.pdf)

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Postsecondary. Educational options following the successful graduation from high school or high school equivalency to include but not limited to: credential programs, 2-year colleges, 4- year colleges, training programs, the armed forces, or the workforce.

Postsecondary Education and Training. Educational options following the successful graduation from high school or high school equivalency to include but not limited to: credential programs, 2-year colleges, 4- year colleges, training programs, or work-based learning opportunities.

Postsecondary Workforce Readiness (PWR). Also known as Career and College Readiness. Colorado high school graduates demonstrate the knowledge and skills (competencies) needed to succeed in postsecondary settings and to advance in career pathways as lifelong learners and contributing citizens.

Pre-Apprenticeship. Services and programs, often including classroom instruction, designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in Registered Apprenticeship programs. These programs should have a documented partnership with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor and together, they expand the participant's career pathway opportunities with industry-based training coupled with classroom instruction.

Project-Based Learning. Is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. (See work-based learning)

Public Partners. A group of non-industry partners engaged in a public-private partnership who work together with industry leaders to develop a coordinated response to the needs of industry. Partners include decision makers in workforce development, secondary education, postsecondary education, human services, vocational rehabilitation, and other community partners.

Public Workforce System. A network of federal, state, and local offices, funded through federal legislation workforce legislation (WIOA) and local supplements that function to support economic expansion and develop the talent of our nation’s workforce.

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Registered Apprenticeship. An employer-driven model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction that increases an apprentice’s skill level and wages and is registered/approved with the US Department of Labor. (colorado.gov/pacific/cdle/apprenticeships; see work-based learning)

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Satellite One-Stop Center. A One-Stop Career Center that offers access to limited employment and training services, and/or offers services specific to the needs of a particular target group(s).

Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM). Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are driving our global marketplace. By 2020, the demand for STEM professionals is expected to add 1 million new jobs in the United States. Colorado is home to one of the fastest-growing economies among all states, and we need to ensure today’s learners and tomorrow’s leaders are passionate about STEM in Colorado and recognize their potential as the basis for stimulating and rewarding careers.

Sector Partnership. An industry-specific regional partnership led by business in partnership with economic development, education, and workforce development.

Sector Strategy. Models for public-private partnerships that utilize a series of tools and policies to promote and support the development and expansion of industry-led initiatives ideally through a sector partnership.

Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The Senior Community Service Employment Program promotes useful employment training opportunities in community service organizations for persons with low incomes who are 55 years of age or older, pursuant to a grant received under Title V of the Older Americans Act. Eligible participants are provided subsidized wages, training for skill enhancement or acquisition of skills, personal and employment counseling, and assistance in obtaining unsubsidized employment. The State enters into contracts with local community providers to implement this program. (See sites.google.com/a/state.co.us/cdhs-cai-aas/state-unit-on-aging/senior-community-services-employment-program)

Skills-based Hiring. When possible and appropriate, remove credential requirements (e.g., degrees, certifications), and instead use competencies (knowledge, skills, and abilities) specific to the job as job requirements in the position description and hiring process. This reduces potential barriers for applicants and allows for reduced bias in hiring procedures by providing a direct description of skills developed and demonstrated through education, training, and past experiences. 

Stackable Credentials. A credential is considered “stackable” when it is part of a sequence of credentials that can be accumulated over time and move an individual along a career pathway or up a career ladder assisting in college and career readiness. (See wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/TEGL15-10acc.pdf)

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TalentFOUND. "TalentFOUND is an initiative designed to bring together all the systems, partners, programs, and initiatives of the Colorado talent development network under one centralized access point to ensure that students, job seekers, and workers have access to meaningful careers, and businesses have access to skilled talent.

Talent Development. Building the knowledge, skills, and abilities of others and helping them develop and achieve their potential so that they and the organizations they may work for can succeed and grow.

Talent Development Network. The network of all systems, partners, programs, and initiatives working together to ensure that students, job seekers, workers have access to meaningful careers and businesses have sufficient access to skilled talent. (See TalentFOUND)

Talent Pipeline. An identified group of currently employed and potential workers to fill positions requiring various skills, knowledge, and abilities in our state.

Talent Pool. An identified group of job candidates that meets a specific set of criteria to be entered into an elite job-ready category in Connecting Colorado.

Trades. A skilled job, typically one requiring manual skills and special training.

Training. A structured program of instruction in a classroom setting or a work setting designed to increase or upgrade occupational skills that prepare students for emerging and current workforce opportunities, and most often resulting in a recognized credential.

Transitional Jobs (aka Paid Work Experience). Time-limited, subsidized employment in the private, nonprofit, or public sectors.

Two-Generation (2Gen) Approach. A mindset for designing programs and policies that serve children and parents simultaneously. For example, an adult education program designed to also provide quality care for young children.

Two-Generation (2Gen) Program. A program designed to provide services to both child and adult simultaneously and track outcomes for both. For example, an adult education program tracks the education gains of participants while tracking the attendance of their children in a Head Start program.

Two-Generation (2Gen) Strategy. A plan to coordinate services with other organizations to meet the needs of all family members. For example, an adult education program coordinates services with Head Start to offer parents classes at the same time children attend the Head Start program, in addition to providing quality child care for younger siblings in collaboration with local child care providers.

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Unions. An organized association of workers formed to protect and further their rights and interests; a labor union.

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Work-Based Learning. Learning opportunities that occur in part or in whole in the workplace and provide the learner with hands-on, real world experience. Work-based learning opportunities include but are not limited to: internships, apprenticeships, and residencies and incumbent worker training. (See URL for WBL Framework; Career Awareness and Exploration; Career Preparation; Career Training)

Work Experience. Any experience that a person gains while working in a specific field or occupation.

Workforce Development System. (See Public Workforce System)

Worksite Tour. A field trip is an opportunity for a class to leave the classroom to see class-related experiences away from the school campus. This short-term visit to a business or agency expands the learning opportunities for participating students. The field trip allows students to observe and investigate activities related to a specific subject and career development objective. It extends the learning environment beyond the school facility, thus emphasizing the relationship between school and work. (See work-based learning)

Workshop. A short term training session, (usually a few hours or days), to provide work search techniques, job retention, or other soft skill learning opportunities.

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Youth Apprenticeship. Apprenticeships for 11th-12th grade students enrolled in a traditional K-12 environment. (See work-based learning)

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Glossary Tools

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Glossary of Equity Terms

The CWDC has published a Glossary of Equity Terms for reference and use by our talent development partners. Words and how we use them matters, and though there is no single agreed upon set of terms when discussing equity, it is important to achieve some level of common understanding in order to move to action in disrupting longstanding racist systems. The glossary aims to provide this common language for terms often used in equity and racial justice work.

   View the Glossary of Equity Terms

The Glossary of Equity Terms is maintained by the CWDC. To submit new new terms or definitions for consideration, please complete the following form.