Achieving the Dream Begins Partnership with Arkansas Community College System to Design Holistic Student Supports at Six Colleges

With Funding from Ascendium Group, New Effort Seeks to Increase Student Learning, Persistence, and Completion

SILVER SPRING, MD (March 29, 2019) – Six Arkansas institutions of higher education have been selected to receive intensive coaching from Achieving the Dream to redesign their student support services to break 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.

Arkansas State University Newport, College of the Ouachitas, East Arkansas Community College, North Arkansas College, Southeast Arkansas College, and Southern Arkansas University Tech will use holistic support principles that embrace the diversity of student goals, needs, and context and provide a framework for institutions to be able to deliver the supports each student needs at the time they need them.

The new partnership between ATD and Arkansas Community Colleges, the association for all Arkansas community colleges, funded through a grant from Ascendium Education Group, also will expand the state’s efforts to make math pathways and guided pathways more widely available.

“Although many colleges offer a range of supports, they typically were not designed with the complex reality of our students’ needs and strengths in mind. As a result, they lack the intended impact because students fall through the cracks between them,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Achieving the Dream is very pleased to bring to our work in holistic student supports to these institutions, to ensure that their students can receive the academic, financial, or personal support they need to get on and stay on the path to their goals.”

The partnership enables ATD to offer intensive coaching on holistic student supports to the six colleges over two years plus learning institutes and webinars to all of the state’s 22 colleges. The six colleges will receive intensive in-person coaching and monthly virtual coaching from ATD coaches Dr. Laurie Fladd, Dr. Terri Manning, Jennifer Hill-Kelly, John Grant, and Kelly Casperson.

The holistic student supports approach recognizes that challenges students face outside the classroom can jeopardize their ability to persist and complete their studies unless colleges provide purposeful assistance. To be able to offer holistic supports, colleges need to (1) develop a deep understanding of the students they serve (2) reexamine and revolutionize the design and delivery of their student support model to meet students where they are; (3) commit to making systemic and culture changes for equity; (4) lead change inclusively to generate cross campus engagement; and (5) assess and improve technology and data use across the institution.

ATD’s leadership in holistic student supports has grown through its work on two major initiatives: Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) with EDUCAUSE and the Working Students Success Network (WSSN). In iPASS, ATD guided 36 two- 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.

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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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