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Excellence Deserves Recognition

The students and institutions in the ATD Network are constantly making strides in leadership, equity, and innovation. We’re thrilled to recognize outstanding achievement and distinction in the ATD Network, awarding both students and colleges each year.

Recognizing Institutional Excellence

Every year, Achieving the Dream (ATD) honors colleges whose commitment to equitable outcomes has driven substantive improvements for students and their communities. The institutional designations reflect the dedication and hard work of administrators, faculty, and staff to give students equal access to learning, credentials, and fulfilling careers. ATD uses lessons emerging from the work of these colleges to help inform and inspire others in the ATD Network and the higher education field.  

Leader College

ATD Network institutions that are in good standing with ATD and their accreditors and have participated in the ATD Network since 2020 or earlier are eligible to apply for Leader College designation. 

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Leader College of Distinction

ATD Network institutions that have completed at least one year at Leader College status and are in good standing with ATD and their accreditors may apply to seek a higher designation, Leader College of Distinction. 

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Leah Meyer Austin Award

The Leah Meyer Austin Award is the highest distinction a college in the Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network can earn. The award annually recognizes an ATD Network institution that has demonstrated outstanding progress in designing a student-focused culture that permeates the whole organization. 

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DREAM Scholars

The DREAM Student Scholars program is a year-long experiential learning opportunity for community college students to grow as leaders, culminating in a platform at the annual DREAM conference.

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Harvey Lincoln Student Scholars

ATD provides annual need-based scholarships to community college students who have persisted in their studies despite educational, personal, or financial obstacles.

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Keep Exploring


ATD Network colleges benefit from the collecting learning of our national network of institutions and partners – as well as from our extensive years of experience innovating and anticipating future needs and issues in the face of continual change.

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Stories & Case Studies

While each institution is unique, it’s critical to learn from each other’s challenges and successes. Explore our leader stories and institutional case studies to inspire your whole college transformation.

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Join our upcoming webinars, virtual sessions, and events to learn from others who are diligently working to close equity gaps and improve student outcomes.

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