Achieving the Dream is a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success. Together with our network of higher ed institutions, coaches and advisors, state policy teams, investors and partners, we are helping more than 4 million community college students have a better economic opportunity and achieve their dreams.
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Why We Do What We Do


Nearly one-half of all students seeking higher education choose a community college. Fewer than half of those students actually finish what they start.

Community colleges remain the nation’s gateways to good jobs for millions of students who dream of a better tomorrow. Yet too often these dreams are cut short.

For the first time in our history, the current generation of college-aged Americans will be less educated than their parents’ generation. Those without an education will be unable to compete in a national landscape that more than ever before demands high-level job skills.

Achieving the Dream and Our Network

Achieving the Dream—the national, nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement—has seen firsthand what happens when there is a long-term, sustainable commitment to improving student success. Achievement gaps close. Momentum builds. Lives change. Neighborhoods flourish.

Student success means so much more than a personal goal secured – It means improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities and our nation as a whole.

Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, Achieving the Dream now leads the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. Together with our Network of over 200 institutions of higher education, 100 coaches and advisors, 15 state policy teams, and numerous investors and partners working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia we are helping more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

Mission, Vision, and Values

Vision


A nation in which community colleges are highly valued for preserving access and ensuring that their students, especially low income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity.

Mission


To lead and support a national network of community colleges to achieve sustainable institutional transformation through sharing knowledge, innovative solutions and effective practices and policies leading to improved outcomes for all students.

Values


Evidence-based, student centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream, Inc. embraces continuous improvement, fosters creativity and innovation, and operates with transparency and respect.

Equity


Community colleges are an indispensable asset in our nation’s efforts to ensure and preserve access to higher education and success for all students, particularly students of color, low-income students, and other historically underrepresented student populations[1]. However, student access and success in higher education continues to be impacted by the effects of structural racism and systemic poverty. Achievement gaps among student groups reflect structural inequities that are often the result of historic and systemic social injustices. These inequities typically manifest themselves as the unintended or indirect consequences of unexamined institutional or social policies.

Achieving the Dream believes that access to a high quality education in an inclusive environment is the right of all individuals and imperative for the continued advancement of a strong democracy and workforce. Achieving the Dream also believes higher education institutions have an obligation to work toward equity for their students. Equity is grounded in the principle of fairness. In higher education, equity refers to ensuring that each student receives what they need to be successful through the intentional design of the college experience.

Achieving the Dream expects colleges to dismantle the barriers facing underserved students. Colleges must routinely scrutinize structural barriers to equity and invest in equity-minded policies, practices, and behaviors that lead to success for all students.

[1] Examples of historically underrepresented students include but are not limited to: first-generation, low-income, students of color; adult students; marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex students; students with second-language backgrounds; undocumented students; veterans; students with disabilities; students with dependents; foster care youth; and formerly and currently incarcerated students.

Explore Our Site

  • Join the Movement

    Get involved - become an Achieving the Dream College, partner with us, make a monetary donation, or work with us as a volunteer or employee.

  • Our Network

    Meet the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network and learn about the work being done across the nation to improve community college student success.

  • Focus Areas

    See how Achieving the Dream leverages targeted focus areas to close achievement gaps and accelerate success among diverse student populations.

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