15 Exemplar Community Colleges earn $100,000 each in Walmart PRESS for Completion Grants

Grants will allow Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges to deepen and expand important reform efforts and ensure that more students have a better chance of obtaining a market-valued credential. 

Reston, VA (June 25, 2012) – Achieving the Dream, a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success, today announced the grant recipients of the Walmart PRESS (Persistence, Retention, and Student Success) for Completion grant program.

The following 15 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges will each receive a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to bolster broad and substantive faculty and staff engagement strategies and increase the number of faculty and staff involved in the Achieving the Dream reform efforts on their respective campuses:

Aiken Technical College
(Aiken, SC)
Alamo Colleges
(San Antonio, TX)
Brazosport College
(Lake Jackson, TX)
Community College of Beaver County
(Monaca, PA)
Cuyahoga Community College
(Cleveland, OH)
Durham Technical Community College
(Durham, NC)
Guilford Technical Community College
(Jamestown, NC)
Northampton Community College
(Bethlehem, PA)
Northern Essex Community College
(Haverhill, MA)
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College
(Orangeburg, SC)
Pulaski Technical College
(North Little Rock, AR)
Roxbury Community College
(Boston, MA)
Tallahassee Community College
(Tallahassee, FL)
Valencia College
(Orlando, FL)
Yakima Valley Community College
(Yakima, WA)

“These 15 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges have met high standards of practice and performance and are well-positioned to tackle one of the toughest community college reform challenges our nation is facing: engaging more full-time and adjunct faculty and staff in student success efforts,” said Rachel Singer, Vice President of Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Nationwide, while great strides have been made at community colleges for student success, the proportion of faculty (including adjunct faculty) and student services personnel deeply engaged in the work is modest compared to the total number of faculty and staff at the colleges. Further, the reform work has not yet eliminated the disconnections between academic departments and student services that limit vital collaboration. Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges, known for their commitment to student-centered evidence-based reforms and outstanding increases in student outcomes, were deemed a most ideal network of colleges for testing and expanding innovative faculty and staff engagement strategies.

Through a competitive process, 15 of 50 eligible Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges were selected to participate in the Walmart PRESS for Completion grant program. The grant will include a 27-month process during which the selected colleges will receive technical assistance and support from Achieving the Dream. In addition, each selected college has agreed to serve as a peer coach and be active in the learning community among the other 175+ colleges in the larger Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. Ultimately, at least 100,000 students stand to benefit directly, and 3.75 million indirectly, from this grant program.

Durham Technical Community College’s grant proposal provides an excellent example of what selected colleges intend to do with the grant funds. Through the Walmart PRESS for Completion grant program, Durham Technical Community College will work for total engagement of faculty (particularly adjunct faculty) and staff in their campus-based student success reform efforts. The college intends to increase course completion rates while remaining committed to their guiding principles: equity above equality, data-informed decision making, and committed leadership. As part of its grant-funded efforts, Durham Technical Community College will hold PRESS for Completion convocations, which will foster “courageous” conversations about quantitative and qualitative course completion data; form PRESS for Completion teams to investigate the student success data for 12 high-risk courses (courses in which student completion is particularly low and failure rates are particularly high, courses with high attendance, and “gatekeeper” courses which prepare them for higher level coursework); assure additional faculty and staff engagement through PRESS for Completion workshops which will be open to all faculty and staff; and employ PRESS for Completion student and social media ambassadors to engage students in the PRESS for Completion work on campus.

“Achieving the Dream has helped us make tremendous differences in the lives of our students since 2005. Our data continues to confirm that we are seeing significant advances in student success – including gains in first-to-second semester persistence, narrowing of the persistence gap for minority men, and graduating students in higher numbers than ever,” said William G. “Bill” Ingram, President of Durham Technical Community College. “This exciting new Walmart PRESS for Completion grant program in partnership with Achieving the Dream will enable us to expand and deepen our institutional reform efforts and ultimately fulfill our mission of ‘enriching students’ lives and the broader community through teaching, learning, and service’ by positioning our students, faculty, and staff for success.”

Representatives from the 15 selected colleges, including Durham Technical Community College, will convene for an inaugural Walmart PRESS for Completion Grant Recipient Kickoff Institute at the Hyatt Hotel in Reston, VA from June 24 – June 26, 2012.  

The Achieving the Dream Model

Achieving the Dream Institutions commit to the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. Based on four principles, the model frames the overall work of helping more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college credential. Each college approaches the work differently, but Achieving the Dream’s five-step process provides practical guidelines for keeping the focus where it belongs and building momentum over time. Throughout the process, Achieving the Dream Coaches offer customized support and help each college’s core team implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success.

Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges

Leader Colleges are demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. They show that it is possible to raise persistence and graduation rates, close achievement gaps, and improve lives. Leader Colleges embody the ultimate goal of Achieving the Dream, and as such, serve as mentors within a community of learners. To be eligible for Leader College distinction, colleges must demonstrate commitment to and progress on the four principles: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement. They must also show three years of sustained improvement of student success on at least one of the following measures of performance:

  • Completion of certificates or degrees
  • Term-to-term and year-to-year retention
  • Completion of college-level math and English courses
  • Advancement from developmental to credit-bearing courses
  • Course completion

Additionally, each Leader College has successfully implemented at least one student success intervention or initiative that is advancing student outcomes that are of sufficient scale to benefit a substantial proportion of students. Indeed, these institutions have met high standards of practice and performance and Achieving the Dream expects these colleges to serve as mentors within the Achieving the Dream community of learners. For more information on the Leader Colleges, click here.

Philanthropy at Walmart 
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support initiatives that are helping people live better around the globe. In May 2010, Walmart and its Foundation made a historic pledge of $2 billion through 2015 to fight hunger in the U.S. The Walmart Foundation also supports education, workforce development, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness initiatives. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.

Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With nearly 200 colleges, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 32 states and the District of Columbia - Achieving the Dream helps 3.75 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams. To learn more, visit www.AchievingtheDream.org.


PDF version of the news release announcing the grant recipients

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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