Achieving the Dream Guidebook Helps Colleges and Their Communities Build Resiliency to Cope with Disaster

SILVER SPRING, MD (October 30) – In the wake of two major hurricanes in the Southeastern United States in September and October, community college reform organization Achieving the Dream is releasing a guide designed to help community colleges build student and community resiliency in the wake of natural and manmade disasters.

Building Resilience: A How-to Guidebook on Integrating Resiliency Competencies into Curriculum shows college faculty how to develop students’ skills and habits of mind to be able to adapt to change and overcome adversity. Applying these strategies to academics means students are better prepared to overcome the barriers that can appear on the way to completing certificates and degrees. More students with credentials means they are positioned to secure good jobs with higher salaries. Communities also have stronger workforces.

“We have learned through our work with a consortium of colleges in the Achieving the Dream Network that resiliency can be taught at the college level to help students push on with the academic pursuits no matter what else is happening in their lives,” says Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Resiliency serves is a powerful antidote to the challenges created by traumatic events like hurricanes and floods or shifts in local economies that make workers’ skills obsolete.”

The guidebook, developed with funds from a US Department of Labor grant to the colleges in the Northeast Resiliency Consortium (NRC), is part of a larger initiative to develop capacity and programming at colleges to build an adaptive, resilient workforce in industries central to preventing, responding and recovering from disasters and crises.

As part of the work of the grant, the colleges participating in the NRC developed the Resiliency Competency Model, which forms the foundation of the guidebook. The colleges first defined what it meant for students to be resilient and then developed a model to help students gain the knowledge, skills, and abilities that help them persist in their studies and thrive in the workplace and their personal lives despite adversity. The five core competencies that make up the Resiliency Competency Model include: critical thinking, adaptability, self-awareness, reflective learning, and collaboration. These five competencies mirror what employers say are critical to workplace success and serve as foundational or soft skills. 

Review the complete guidebook here.

Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 220 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 academic achievement 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 41 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.

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