Leader College of Distinction

Achieving the Dream is now accepting applications for the 2022 cohort of Leader Colleges of Distinction (LCODs). Colleges that meet the criteria outlined below are invited to submit their applications until the September 30 deadline.

To apply, download the application and submit it here by 5:00 pm E.T. on September 30, 2021.

Resources for applicants

Leader College of Distinction application form (PDF)
Leader College of Distinction application rubric (PDF)
Leader College of Distinction data template (.xlsx)
Submit all applications materials HERE

Colleges interested in applying for this opportunity are invited to attend application office hours, virtual sessions where ATD staff will walk through the application process and answer any questions participants may have. Two sessions will be offered:

  • Thursday, August 12, 3:00–4:00 p.m. ET [Register]
  • Thursday, August 26, 3:00–4:00 pm ET [Register]

See Frequently Asked Questions here.

Contact network@achievingthedream.org if you have any questions.

Helpful videos

The below videos walk you through the application process and provide further information about each of the documents you will use to support your application.










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 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.


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.

See a list of ATD Leader Colleges of Distinction.

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