Achieving the Dream Launches New Holistic Student Supports Services to Increase Student Learning, Persistence, and Completion

Next week, more than 320 colleagues will spend four days together in St. Louis at ATD’s second annual Holistic Student Supports Institute, developing ways to redesign their institution’s student supports and services to ensure all students get what they need to succeed in achieving their goals. The intensive working institute is designed to support institutional teams in examining student movement through their institution and designing and executing a coherent strategy for designing a student support model that supports the whole student, based on ATD’s holistic student supports approach. The HSS Institute is one component of Achieving the Dream’s new approach to the intentional planning and integration of mission critical student academic and personal supports.

This fall, we’re launching our holistic student supports approach nationwide in a number of ways, including intensive in-person coaching for 11 colleges, virtual coaching for colleges in two states, and in-person institutes for colleges in four states.

ATD’s holistic student supports approach breaks down the barrier between academic and nonacademic supports to provide a seamless, high quality, and personalized experience that supports every student’s academic and basic needs to ensure that more students, particularly students of color and low-income students, can achieve their goals.

Our leadership in holistic student supports has grown through our work on two major initiatives: Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS)  and the Working Students Success Network (WSSN). In iPASS, ATD and EDUCAUSE guided 36 two-year and four-year institutions in comprehensive efforts to strengthen student advising. In WSSN, ATD guided 19 two-year institutions to systematically weave together a range of career, social, and personal support services, creating a comprehensive approach to addressing students’ in- and out-of-classroom needs. Lessons from both research and practice through iPASS and WSSN have informed ATD’s holistic supports approach. 

Holistic student supports provide a framework for institutions to be able to deliver the supports each student needs at the time he or she needs them. The approach recognizes that challenges students face outside the classroom can jeopardize their ability to persist and complete their studies without purposeful assistance from their colleges.

Our new partnership with the Arkansas Community Colleges Center for Student Success with funding from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates enables us to offer intensive coaching on holistic student supports to five colleges over two years plus learning institutes and virtual coaching to the state’s 22 colleges.

Six of the 11 colleges that will be receiving intensive holistic student supports coaching are ATD Network institutions that are leading the field through work they already have undertaken on their own campuses. They are:

  • Bunker Hill Community College (MA)
  • Bakersfield College (CA)
  • Leeward Community College (HI)
  • Honolulu Community College (HI)
  • Housatonic Community College (CT)
  • Central Piedmont Community College (NC) 


In partnership with Jobs for the Future, which manages the national network of Student Success Centers, ATD will offer a range of services to statewide Student Success Centers to support colleges’ implementation of holistic student supports at scale. These services include in-person institutes for colleges in several states, including Arkansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, and builds on the state-level institutes ATD offered in partnership with JFF in Student Success Centers last year in Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ohio.

Two of ATD’s new full-time coaches dedicated to student support work, Dr. Laurie Fladd and Shauna Davis, and Strategic Data and Technology Coach Shara Davis will provide expert assistance to the colleges.

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