Woodward Hines Education Foundation Funds Two Mississippi Community Colleges to Pursue Transformative Student Success

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Coahoma Community College join national higher education reform organization Achieving the Dream with WHEF support

Silver Spring, MD (February 16, 2018) – Mississippi’s Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) and Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit focused on increasing community college student success, have announced a new partnership that will enable two Mississippi community colleges to join the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. Specifically, WHEF has awarded a four-year grant of $900,000 to ATD to enable two Mississippi colleges to join its premiere national reform network to advance student success. As part of the ATD Network, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) and Coahoma Community College (CCC) will receive on-site visits from coaches, information about successful, high-impact practices used by peer colleges, and access to resources, all of which will help the colleges increase the number of their students who complete certificates and degrees.

At a time when state funding to Mississippi’s 15 community colleges serving 75,000 students is being reduced, it is hard for colleges to make the reforms necessary to boost retention and completion. New philanthropic support for the two Mississippi colleges arrives at a critical moment.

“We know that without a postsecondary degree, nearly half of the poorest children in Mississippi will remain in poverty. The good news is that this figure decreases dramatically—to 10 percent—with a postsecondary education,” said Jim McHale, president and CEO, Woodward Hines Education Foundation. “Our board recognizes that a college degree is a game-changer.  They want to invest in institutions like Achieving the Dream that support community colleges and enable them to better serve all students.”

“Community colleges are key institutions for leveling the playing field for low-income students, students of color, and first generation students who are hoping to earn degrees and credentials that support their economic and social mobility, and that in turn, support the economic and civic health of the communities in which they live," said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Achieving the Dream is excited about our new partnership with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation and welcomes Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Coahoma Community College into our network."

Teams from MGCCC and CCC and other colleges new to ATD, will meet in June to launch their four-year ATD-experience. They will meet with their coaches and learn a process for gathering and analyzing multiple data sources that help them better understand the student experience, prioritize resources and strategies, and monitor and evaluate impact. By sharing their data widely, among faculty and staff, colleges can drive transformation throughout the institution.  Colleges also lay the groundwork for addressing equity gaps.

ATD will also offer MGCCC, CCC and the other colleges in its 2018 cohort access to a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment that allows them to pinpoint strengths and areas for improvement across seven institutional capacities in areas such as leadership and vision, teaching and learning, and data and technology.  With the capacity framework as a guide, ATD helps colleges integrate and align any existing student success efforts with bold, holistic, institution-wide changes that research suggests can help more students succeed.


Woodward Hines Education Foundation
The Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping more Mississippians obtain postsecondary credentials, college certifications, and degrees that lead to meaningful employment. Since WHEF’s inception, it has worked to increase college access and entry for young people in Mississippi and has expanded that work to support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion.

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Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 277 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 44 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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