Community College of Baltimore County and Patrick Henry Community College Receive National Student Achievement Award

Achieving the Dream recognizes two colleges with $20,000 awards for closing achievement gaps, improving student success

Media Contact: Lynn Reddy, (240) 450-3830,


Baltimore, MD (February 17, 2015) – Achieving the Dream, Inc. this evening presented the seventh annual Leah Meyer Austin Award to the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) and Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) for their dramatic improvements in student outcomes. Along with this recognition, Achieving the Dream will award the colleges $20,000 to support their ongoing student success efforts.

The Leah Meyer Austin Award was established in 2008 to recognize Achieving the Dream colleges that design and implement college-wide approaches that promote student success and result in significant, sustainable institutional improvement. Successful colleges put in place policies, processes, and programs that reinforce and build on each other to improve student achievement and meet equity goals.

The Community College of Baltimore County is a large, multi-campus institution that serves a population from which more than eight of every 10 entering students requires additional preparation for college-level courses. Its enrollment increased more than 36 percent between 2007 and 2011.

Patrick Henry Community College is a small rural institution that serves a community recently known as “the unemployment capital of Virginia.” Forty percent of its students receive Pell grants. Over a 10 year period, state support for the budget declined by 40 percent.

While the joint winners of this year’s award are vastly different, they both made student success their highest priority. Both colleges also invested time, effort, and resources in sharing their experiences and lessons with other community colleges across the nation.

“These colleges truly are exemplars,” said Dr. William E. Trueheart, President & CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Even in the face of serious challenges, they had the courage to make major changes because they believed their students’ success required and deserved them.”

Since it joined Achieving the Dream, the Community College of Baltimore County has seen remarkable improvement in many indicators of student success:

  • Certificate and degree completion increased by 55 percent from 2010 to 2014.
  • More than 90 percent of students give very high ratings to their experiences with advisors.
  • Students have collectively saved $80,000 through CCBC piggy banks since a financial empowerment program began in 2010.

Patrick Henry Community College reports its relationship with Achieving the Dream has transformed the college, dramatically altered the way it educates students, and led to exceptional student outcomes:

  • Completion and transfer-within-three-years have more than doubled across all student groups, including low-income students and African-American students.
  • Gateway English completion rates have increased across all student groups, and nearly doubled for Pell recipients.
  • The achievement gap between African-American students and white students has closed by 10 percentage points.
  • Developmental mathematics and English completion rates have increased across all student groups.

For more information on the exemplary work of CCBC, click here
For more information on the exemplary work of PHCC, click here

The winners were selected by a committee composed of representatives from Achieving the Dream, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, Jobs for the Future, the University of Wisconsin System, MDC, and MDRC. Active Achieving the Dream colleges are eligible to apply for this award.

The award is given in honor of Leah Meyer Austin, a former senior vice president at Lumina Foundation and a current Achieving the Dream board member, whose visionary leadership shaped Achieving the Dream in its early years.

For more information about the award and past recipients, click here

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 300 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 equity 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 45 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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