Achieving the Dream Launches New Website and Welcomes New Staff Members

New website and new staff members are just the start of an already exciting new year; read the “Top Ten List of Accomplishments so-far in 2012!”

Silver Spring, MD (February 27, 2012) – Achieving the Dream – the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success in higher education history – launched a new website and welcomed new staff members. This is just the start of an already exciting new year and a new Top Ten List of Accomplishments so-far in 2012 highlights the additional milestones (below).

“Lumina Foundation – Achieving the Dream’s Founding Investor and anchor funder – is proud to see such outstanding momentum from Achieving the Dream already this year, including the new website, new team members, and string of accomplishments so far in 2012,” said Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. “Lumina Foundation established the ‘Big Goal’ to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025. We recognize that the work of improving student success is as difficult as it is important, and believe that Achieving the Dream is well-positioned to help even more community college students succeed.”

New Website

The new interactive website, created in partnership with Grand Junction Design, and funded by the Lumina Foundation, features a sharp new layout that streamlines years of reports, results, and findings through an easy-to-navigate Drupal platform. The new website also features:

  • New profiles on each of the more than 150 colleges, and professionally-designed, printable, one-pagers for each of the Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges
  • New policy section that concisely explains the deep policy work Achieving the Dream is doing in 15 states, as well as a handy self-assessment tool for all states nationwide to evaluate their current policy environment and easily target future student success policy goals.
  • New interactive map to see Achieving the Dream’s national footprint.
  • Two-minute animation video summarizing who we are and what we do.
  • Succinct, bulleted lists of results at Achieving the Dream Colleges and in our policy states.
  • New, easy-to-navigate Knowledge Center that allows users to access more than 250 important publications and resources.
  • Details and access to the entire Achieving the Dream Network, including the 150+ colleges, 100+ Coaches and Advisors, the 25 investors, 15 State Policy Teams, the nine Board members, and the seven Founding Partners.

"Our favorite part of the new Achieving the Dream website is the professionally-designed profile that we can easily print out, said Deborah King, Ed.D., Vice Chancellor for Instruction, Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas. “It is absolutely beautiful and assists us in spreading the information about all of the great work we are doing on campus. In fact, we already shared it at a meeting we had with an important foundation."

“Achieving the Dream’s new website will lead the way for other nonprofits and social change-makers,” said Margaux O’Malley, Principal, Grand Junction Design. “The Drupal platform – the gold standard in open-source content management – supports the powerful knowledge center, interactive maps, and overall streamlined presentation of information that let users easily find the tools they need so they can do their jobs more effectively and make the changes that the world needs.”

This is the first of what will be at least two phases for the new website. The second phase, already underway, will include the launch of the new Achieving the Dream blog, “Changing the Conversation,” features on collegial organizations considered “Friends of Achieving the Dream,” and an exciting new interactive members-only portal that will host networking and information sharing among participating institutions.”

“Achieving the Dream, with strong new team members, the new website, and a string of accomplishments already in 2012, has become a powerhouse in the national movement to help more community college students persist through school and earn their credential or degree,” said Robert G. Templin, Chairman of the Achieving the Dream Board of Directors. “The Achieving the Dream Network is poised for great results this year, and this is more than just a good thing – this is absolutely essential if our nation is going to meet the President’s call to graduate 5 million more community college students by 2020.”

New Staff

Achieving the Dream has hired six new colleagues since the start of the new year.

  • Derrick Browning, Associate Director of Finance

Browning is currently completing his doctoral studies at the University of Maryland University College in Community College Policy and Administration. Browning brings with him nearly a decade of accounting experience having served most recently as a Senior Accountant for the American Council on Education where he facilitated audit schedules, supervised external consultants, and managed the allocation of overhead costs to programs, grants, and government projects.

  • Sarah Hollister, Associate Director of Programs (Leader Colleges)

Prior to joining Achieving the Dream, Hollister was a Policy Specialist in the Office of Policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Education where she managed the development and implementation of statewide education initiatives of both the department and the Governor’s Office. Previously, she was a Project Associate with the Best Practices Institute where she provided project management and stakeholder input support to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

  • Mia Gabrielle Ramos, Assistant Director of Programs (New Colleges)

Ramos brings to Achieving the Dream her experience as a community college graduate who earned two Associate’s degrees and later went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree from Columbia University. Ramos is a member of the Columbia University Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Association where she founded the first chapter of the honor society at an Ivy League Institution.

  • Rachel Singer, Vice President for Community College Relations and Applied Research

Singer brings with her 25 years of community college experience from Kingsborough Community College where, as Director of Academic Affairs, she supervised all administrative aspects of their Opening Doors and Career Focused Learning Communities, serving over 1,000 students each semester. She has led training and professional development seminars on how to replicate and scale successful student success initiatives for faculty and staff in community colleges across the country.

  • Laurece Summers, Assistant Director of Finance

Summers brings to Achieving the Dream her experience as a Compliance Associate for Achieving the Dream Founding Partner and former Managing Partner, MDC. Summers attended a community college before transferring to North Carolina Wesleyan College and earning her Bachelor’s degree. She is currently pursuing certification to become a Certified Public Accountant.

Werden brings with her over 18 years of finance experience, 11 of which are in nonprofit accounting. Her specialties include full cycle accounting, budget preparation and forecast analysis, financial management reports, policy and procedure development, and audit/tax return preparation.

Most of these positions are not newly created, but existing roles previously filled by colleagues at Founding Partner organizations working as contractors. The Achieving the Dream staffing plan allows for ample cross-training and smooth transitions between our collegial contractors and the new hires at the Achieving the Dream, Inc. headquarters.

This group of recruits compliments other team members who joined us over the last eight months, including Chief Technology Officer Nicole Melander, who ensures that programs and operations are informed, supported by, and integrated with cutting-edge technology, and Senior Director of Development George Cushman, who is responsible for developing partnerships with corporations and foundations that will result in sustained institutional capacity.

Top Ten List

Things are moving fast at the Achieving the Dream headquarters, and many additions have been made to support the national student success movement. The following is Achieving the Dream’s Top Ten List of Accomplishments (so-far) in 2012:

1. New Website
2. New Staff
3. New Facebook Page
4. New Twitter Account (@AchievetheDream)
5. New DREAM Big for College T-shirt Design Contest for Students, in partnership with You and Who
6. New DREAM Big for College Student Video Contest, in partnership with ISKME
7. Redesigned annual meeting – now D.R.E.A.M. – with more student involvement and a heavy social media presence
8. New Report –Building Institutional Capacity for Data-Informed Decision-Making (the third guide in the three-part cutting edge series)
9. New Pass-Through Grant Programs (details will be revealed at D.R.E.A.M. next week)
10. New Achieving the Dream Institution Profiles

Press Release Files

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 220 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress in closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with nearly 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.

Follow us on Twitter @achievethedream

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