Over the past 12 years, institutional diversity leaders have shared with us their experiences in applying for the annual INSIGHT Into Diversity HEED Award. Institutions make a concerted effort to be thorough and tell their stories completely — and have good reasons for being so diligent. 

As a prestigious, HEED Award-winning university or college, your school is distinguished nationally for your hard work and dedication in building an equitable and inclusive campus, which includes recognition in INSIGHT’S annual HEED Award issue. 

More importantly, you are celebrated by your constituents and the surrounding community for your school’s success. These accolades might come in the form of additional funding and resources from university leadership; donations from a corporate partner that values workforce diversity; grant funding; new relationships with community organizations that have a vested interest in the success of your students, faculty, and staff — who typically live and work alongside their constituents; or through greater participation from members of the campus community who view the success of your programming with pride and see the value in becoming part of your nationally recognized DEI efforts.

Below are strategies suggested by past HEED Award winners to help improve your school’s 2024 HEED Award application and planning. Here’s hoping we see your finalized application next summer!

1. Note the deadline 

The 2024 HEED Award application will open in early March. Note this deadline on your calendar and create additional, phased deadlines to ensure progress in your application journey.

2. Alert the team

Starting now, get to know individuals across campus divisions who will ultimately serve as your core committee: those colleagues who can provide data, program insights, fresh perspectives, and helpful feedback on all activities, initiatives, and policies related to DEI — and rely on them during the application completion process.

3. Share the link

As soon as it’s available, share the link to the HEED Award application with your core committee. Once they’ve had a chance to review it, schedule a daylong meeting to allow departments to report on their DEI-related activities. Involving others builds a sense of campuswide ownership and takes some responsibility off the senior diversity leader who typically directs the overall effort.

4. Tell your DEI story

Tell your story in the HEED Award application, don’t just check boxes. Comment sections are provided for this purpose, and it’s important for you to use them to your advantage!

5. Gauge your progress

The HEED Award asks about specific DEI practices that are evidence based and known to be successful. Be assured that if there is a question about it on the application, other colleges and universities have implemented that strategy and we have deemed it a best practice that all schools can emulate. To that point, use the HEED Award as a guide over the next year to develop new initiatives and address gaps in your current campus programming and policies.

6. Read closely

Pay attention to the content of each question on the HEED Award application: Highlight those achievements that pertain specifically to the aspect of DEI reflected in the question.

7. Take notes

Keep an open file of notes and ideas so you have a comprehensive accounting of your institution’s DEI activities by the time you begin the 2024 HEED Award application.

8. Start now!

Get started! Download a sample of the 2023 HEED Award application to get a preview of topics covered and questions asked, at insightintodiversity.com/heedaward.