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Community colleges as hubs of social and equitable mobility and equitable, antiracist communities

| Dr. Karen A. Stout

Research & Reports
July 6, 2022


Raising the stakes to build equitable communities and bolster student success

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For nearly two decades, Achieving the Dream has been on a transformational journey to expand and strengthen student success in higher education and transform our nation’s community colleges into equitable, student-centered organizations that help our diverse student population earn credentials that have significant value in the marketplace.

Our fundamental commitment has always been to address the institutional, economic, and social barriers that many students must overcome to gain access to and succeed in higher education and to close equity gaps for racially and economically marginalized students. We continue to learn what students, institutions, and communities most need to succeed and work with institutions to strategically integrate reform efforts and innovations to help  them adopt and scale the best evidence-based practices to improve student success.

Our new strategic vision builds on those lessons learned and the collective knowledge of institutional leaders, faculty, staff, and students from across the ATD Network as well as our many partner organizations and institutions. It builds on ATD’s nearly two-decade track record of success in:

  1. Strengthening community colleges’ capacity to create transformative change across all aspects of the institution through coaching, supports, and targeted services
  2. Unleashing the power of the largest reform network in higher education to facilitate peer learning, and fine-tune solutions that work in local settings
  3. Leveraging the power of data, research, and the wisdom of practice to meet ever more challenging goals and to measure progress toward them

ATD’s Renewed Strategic Vision

To help our Network colleges catalyze equitable, antiracist, and economically vibrant communities through institutional transformation that advances community colleges as profoundly accessible hubs of learning, credentialing, and economic mobility that eliminate inequities in educational and workforce outcomes.

Today, our work is needed more than ever. Our nation and our communities face ongoing challenges, all of which came into full relief during the COVID-19 pandemic — economic and social inequities, ongoing structural racism, political turmoil, and a damaging divisiveness that is tearing at the fabric of our country. Community colleges — the most versatile, local, credential-oriented, and community-serving of our higher education institutions — must be a lever for change for our students and our communities. To make this happen, our institutions must transform to become profoundly accessible hubs of learning, credentialing, and economic mobility that eliminate inequities in educational and workforce outcomes.

In the past, community colleges were lifelong learning institutions. In the future, they will also
become lifelong career-matching institutions — a source of upskilling, a rational pathway to career development that weaves together opportunities for students to move in and out of work and school that is designed to progressively lead to a career in a particular field.

Achieving the Dream will continue to bolster institutional capacity, but we’re raising the stakes to address core challenges outside our colleges that have become too large to ignore. We invite you to learn more about our direction and to join us as partners as we take these important steps in our transformational journey.

Karen Stout signature

Dr. Karen A. Stout
President & CEO, Achieving the Dream

Achieving the Dream's strategic plan

Community Colleges as Hubs of Social and Equitable Mobility and Equitable, Antiracist Communities

Achieving the Dream’s Strategic Vision


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