The five 2021 cohort colleges joining Achieving the Dream’s Network are beginning the process of accelerating their student success work and addressing equity challenges this week at the 2021 Kickoff Institute, which is being held virtually.
On Tuesday, August 3, ATD officially welcomes the 2021 cohort of new Network colleges, who will engage in an immersive two-day virtual event that launches each institution’s student success work, which include improving equitable outcomes for students, bolstering student retention and completion, and expanding holistic supports to meet students’ evolving needs.
The 2021 cohort of ATD Network colleges consists of the following five colleges:
- Central Ohio Technical College (OH)
- East Mississippi Community College (MS)
- Madison College (WI)
- Middlesex Community College (MA)
- Southeast Arkansas College (AR)
Kickoff is an annual event designed to prepare colleges for the work they will undergo with ATD and to equip them with the tools they will need to tackle pressing challenges in equity and access at their institutions. During Kickoff, teams from each college will meet virtually with their ATD coaches and begin to organize their student success work for the year, beginning with intensive work disaggregating their data and assessing their institutional capacities.
These colleges are joining ATD after the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the nation’s health and economic inequalities and the resulting economic fallout disproportionally hit working class families and racially minoritized communities, as Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream, highlighted in her opening address to Kickoff participants.
“Colleges that partner with ATD must be both aspirational in how they engage change and be willing to take a hard look at where we are falling short. For ATD, that begins with centering equity within our institutions, understanding our students and their lived experiences, and tearing down structures and policies that are barriers especially for racially marginalized students,” Dr. Stout said.
Throughout Kickoff, plenaries, equity workshops, and concurrent sessions will highlight the essential and central role that a focus on equity plays in each area of ATD’s work, including data disaggregation, teaching and learning, and professional development for classified staff professionals and faculty.
On Tuesday, teams will reflect on their institution’s theory of change and identify opportunities for college-wide engagement. They will also begin to identify key milestone activities that will culminate in the creation of an action plan at the end of year one that outlines implementation priorities.
Then on Wednesday, college teams will begin to identify a communications strategy to introduce ATD to the broader college community, what processes and practices to deploy to accomplish this work, and opportunities for sharing the learning that will occur within the student success teams and the broader community.
“We’re excited to work with this exceptional cohort as they take on a broad range of challenges to improve equitable student success,” Dr. Stout said. “The colleges have already begun to work on crucial issues to become more equity-focused, data-driven, and intentional in addressing students’ lifelong learning needs.”