Achieving the Dream and Our Network

Achieving the Dream — the national, nonprofit leader in championing evidence-based institutional improvement — has seen firsthand what happens when there is a long-term, sustainable commitment to improving student success. Achievement gaps close. Momentum builds. Lives change. Neighborhoods flourish.

Student success means so much more than a personal goal secured – It means improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities and our nation as a whole.

Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, Achieving the Dream now leads the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success in higher education history. Together with our Network of over 300 institutions of higher education, 75 coaches and advisors, and numerous investors and partners working throughout 45 states and the District of Columbia we are helping more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

Why We Do What We Do

Nearly one-half of all students seeking higher education choose a community college. Fewer than half of those students actually finish what they start.

Community colleges remain the nation’s gateways to good jobs for millions of students who dream of a better tomorrow. Yet too often these dreams are cut short.

For the first time in our history, the current generation of college-aged Americans will be less educated than their parents’ generation. Those without an education will be unable to compete in a national landscape that more than ever before demands high-level job skills.


ATD will help our Network colleges catalyze antiracist, equitable, and economically vibrant communities through institutional transformation that advances community colleges as profoundly accessible hubs of learning, credentialing, and economic mobility that eliminate inequities in educational and workforce outcomes.


To lead and support a national network of community colleges to achieve sustainable institutional transformation through sharing knowledge, innovative solutions and effective practices and policies leading to improved outcomes for all students.


  • Organizational Community: We are committed to the success of each other and the full ATD team. Together, we create an empowering,collaborative,and trusting atmosphere where staff feel connected and respected. We believe meaningful change can be achieved through purposeful partnerships and relationships.
  • Integrity: We demonstrate honesty and trustworthiness in all of our actions. We lead by example and consistently hold ourselves accountable to one another.
  • Equity: We proactively seek to create an equitable and inclusive environment within ATD. We highly value and appreciate our differences and create an environment grounded in the principles of fairness where all staff can thrive.
  • Reflective Practice and Improvement: We believe in evidence informed decisions,and feedback. As such,we know that learning,reflection and adaptation to evolving circumstances are critical to ATD's success. We build organizational capacity, sustainability,and impact through creative and innovative approaches.


Achieving the Dream believes that equity — our core founding principle — is the driving force to achieve the educational, economic, and social benefits of higher education for the students we serve. We believe that when colleges intentionally design and implement antiracist and just structures, policies, and practices that combat oppression, students and their communities thrive. Higher education must interrogate the disconnect between institutionalized practices that impact student success and the systemic structures and processes that continue to oppress and exclude students based on the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender identity, language, (dis)ability, sexual orientation, economic status, and/or religion.

Achieving the Dream remains steadfast in our commitment to delivering student-centered strategies to guide and support colleges to disrupt and dismantle historical systemic discriminatory legacies, structures, and barriers that prevent community members from prospering. We expect ATD Network colleges to honor their institutional responsibilities to create and invest in thriving local communities by leveraging their leadership positions to actualize social, economic, and racial justice. Through bold actions, colleges must transform their practices to target and eliminate specific barriers to student success and address their students’ needs by centering equity within their local context.

Learn more about our Equity Statement.

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