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Leader Colleges of Distinction

The ATD Network’s Leader Colleges of Distinction report rigorous metrics demonstrating sustained improvements in student outcomes and reduced equity gaps.



Leader Colleges of Distinction have their own identity as part of the ATD Network. Colleges earning this designation will receive priority participation in ATD’s innovation initiatives and for competitive grant opportunities when ATD is able to determine which institutions may apply. They will be asked to present and facilitate more sessions at ATD events and institutes, be asked to serve as mentor colleges, and receive priority to be featured in ATD’s communications that reach thousands of individuals, funders, and national media outlets.


ATD invites colleges that have completed at least one year at Leader College status to apply for Leader College of Distinction. Additional eligibility criteria include:

  • Active ATD Network participation in current year including payment of current invoice
  • Good standing with your accrediting agency (not on warning or probation)

The Leader College of Distinction metrics are rigorous. Colleges must report four years of data and show a substantive three-year upward trend on the three metrics selected in the All Students (Overall) group, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion or transfer. In addition, colleges must demonstrate, through disaggregation, the narrowing of equity gaps on at least two student characteristic categories on two or more metrics. These more rigorous requirements are meant to motivate and recognize sustained and proactive reform efforts that result in greater student success and equity.

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