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Achieving the Dream recognizes 10 Leader Colleges and 6 Leader Colleges of Distinction for their exemplary work to advance student success

News & Updates
February 21, 2024

Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national organization committed to increasing the success of community college students, today announced that 16 colleges have earned Leader College or Leader College of Distinction status, recognitions of excellence bestowed annually upon deserving institutions within the organization’s network.  

The six Leader Colleges of Distinction include five colleges that have earned the honor for the first time, demonstrating sustained and significant outcomes in the advancement of student success:  Delaware Technical Community College (Delaware), Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Minnesota), Hudson County Community College (New Jersey), Stanly Community College (North Carolina), and Zane State College (Ohio). In addition, Patrick & Henry Community College (Virginia), a Leader College of Distinction since 2018, has recertified its status. This year’s class of Leader Colleges of Distinction joins 25 ATD colleges who previously earned this distinction. 

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018 to recognize colleges that have pursued and met challenging student success goals, often earning Leader College status several times. Leader Colleges of Distinction must show improvement in three or more student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer with an earned baccalaureate. They are also required to show they have reduced equity gaps in at least two metrics for at least two student groups. These requirements recognize and motivate sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater improvements in student success and equity. 

Ten community colleges from the ATD Network have earned Leader College status, having shown steady improvement in outcomes in student success.  

The cohort of seven new Leader Colleges are: 

  • Bay Mills Community College (Michigan) 
  • Forsyth Technical Community College (North Carolina) 
  • Iḷisaġvik College (Alaska) 
  • Little Priest Tribal College (Nebraska) 
  • Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College (North Dakota)
  • SUNY Schenectady County Community College (New York) 
  • United Tribes Technical College (North Dakota)   

Three institutions have recertified their status as Leader Colleges: 

  • Austin Community College (Texas) 
  • Columbus State Community College (Ohio) 
  • Delta College (Michigan) 

These colleges join 34 other ATD colleges with Leader College designations. Leader Colleges play an important role in accelerating adoption of effective practices within the ATD Network and across higher education. ATD recognizes these institutions for the quality of their work in whole-college reform, resulting in increased completion rates. Leader Colleges develop innovative ways to work with other colleges to share knowledge and facilitate an exchange of ideas about evidence-based reform strategies. 

“These recognitions are important to our colleges. They affirm to their faculty and staff and communities the importance of their student success work and that they are making progress on important milestone metrics in their journeys,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “These institutions are exemplars of excellence within the ATD Network. They are driving accelerated and scaled gains in equitable student success results, which effect substantive improvements for students, families, and the communities they serve. Their dedication and hard work both inform and inspire other colleges, and we admire them for their work.”  

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