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How Tallahassee Community College creates a culture of care for students

Stories & Case Studies
September 26, 2022

For nearly two decades, Tallahassee Community College (TCC) has made strides with Achieving the Dream to build equity, strengthen leadership, and develop innovative solutions to serve its students. TCC joined the ATD Network in 2004, and in 2022 ATD proudly recognized the college’s efforts through the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin (LMA) Award.

The LMA Award recognizes the best that the ATD Network has to offer and demonstrates that every leader, faculty member, and employee at the institution is committed to student success. This ideal is proudly embodied throughout TCC. The college understands that in order to create lasting change, all members of the campus community must have a sense of ownership when it comes to directing and investing in the college’s future. “Innovation only exists when everyone understands the measures of success,” a representative of the college told ATD.

A culture of care

In September 2019, over 170 college faculty and staff gathered to answer an important question: “How might TCC redesign its student experience through an innovative model that removes barriers for all students to be successful?” This question began a collaborative process that ultimately led to the college’s foundational C.A.R.E. (Connections, Academics, Resources, and Engagement) model.

This model was put to the test in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic plunged the world into lockdown and colleges across the country had to make rapid shifts to online learning. TCC rose to the challenge, rolling out new teaching and learning practices that the college called LIVE (Learning Interactively in a Virtual Environment). Faculty trainings embedded high-impact practices into the virtual classroom and the student affairs department mobilized to provide just-in-time support for students’ nonacademic needs.


Data Spotlight

TCC is increasing success rates and narrowing equity gaps for its students.


College-wide success among all first-time-in-college (FTIC) students increased in fall 2020.


Success for Black and Hispanic FTIC students increased in fall 2020.

+8 percentage points

The number of FTIC students who completed 24 credits in their first year increased from fall 2019 to fall 2020.

–4 percentage points

Equity gaps between Black and white student success rates narrowed from 19.7% in fall 2021 to 15.6% in fall 2022.

TCC credits the ATD Network with providing some of the tools that made these faculty and staff efforts successful. “The knowledge shared of what other institutions are doing through our ATD coaches has been invaluable, especially as it has related to building our professional development model among faculty,” college leaders said.

Representatives from TCC and ATD will explore the C.A.R.E. model further in a panel during the 2022 ACCT Leadership Congress on October 28.

Partnerships build community

Like many ATD Network colleges, TCC sees its role not just as an institution that supports students, but as an engine of opportunity and mobility for its community. Through the Workforce Connections initiative, TCC takes an active role engaging businesses across targeted industries to build their talent pools through strategic workforce training.

This includes a recent collaboration with a local chamber of commerce that identified urgent needs in the healthcare industry. TCC quickly restructured its clinical medical assistant program and partnered with Florida State University and was able to meet the entire workforce need within four months.

“I belong.”

TCC is leading the field in programs, policies, and practices that serve their students and support their community, and they have found success by fostering a culture of care throughout the institution. College leaders told ATD, “The key questions we must ask ourselves are… Do people feel valued? Do they feel heard? Do they know their sense of purpose and belonging?” For the many faculty, staff, and students working and learning at TCC, the echoed sentiment is yes, “I belong.”

That sense of belonging extends beyond the campus boundaries to the wider network of peers, coaches, and supporters that TCC is connected to through the ATD Network. As one member of their campus community recently said, “Being part of the ATD Network is like being a part of a large extended family where you can always find someone to share, learn, and innovate with.”

We’re proud to have Tallahassee Community College as part of the “extended ATD family.” Their innovation and commitment, like the work of so many others in the Network, is constantly pushing the field of higher education toward a more just, equitable, and vibrant future.

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