Leah Meyer Austin Award


Achieving the Dream’s  Leah Meyer Austin Award is the highest honor a college in the ATD Network can earn. The award has been given annually since 2009 to a college that employs a holistic approach to reducing achievement gaps between student groups and increasing success for all. The award recognizes institutional strength, aligned policies and procedures, a student-focused culture, and notable increases in student outcomes.

The selection process reflects the latest approaches to student success work and results. As colleges are increasingly able to gather, analyze, and present data to motivate change that benefits students, ATD’s partnerships with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) and others allow us to incorporate into the selection criteria nationally recognized student success metrics. In addition, more Network colleges are using ATD’s Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT) to identify their strengths and needs in areas such as equity, teaching and learning, engagement, and communication. The selection process also acknowledges colleges’ efforts to strengthen institutional capacity in building a student-centered culture.

ATD invites colleges to apply for the award if they meet two sets of criteria. Network criteria require an eligible college to be designated as a Leader College in good standing and a participant in the ATD Network for at least three program years. An eligible college will not have won the award in the previous five years.

In addition, eligible colleges must meet one of the following four data criteria:

  • Show a four-year improvement in the IPEDS three-year graduation rate of at least three percentage points (first-time full-time students); or
  • Show a four-year improvement in the National Student Clearinghouse three-year graduation rate of at least three percentage points (first time ever in college, degree seeking, first time ever in college students, both full-time and part-time); or
  • Show a six-year transfer-out bachelor's degree completion rate at or above the national level; or
  • Have been chosen in 2017 as one of the top 150 colleges in the competition for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

Network colleges that meet these criteria receive an invitation by email to complete an application.

Please contact austinaward@achievingthedream.org or 240-450-0075 if you have questions.

Congratulations to the 2019 Leah Meyer Austin Award winners Amarillo College and Columbus State Community College. Read more about them here and here.

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