The Power of Partnership

Partnerships with national and regional funders, institutions, and states enabled ATD to continue to grow.

Through the power of partnership, ATD continued to grow by gaining influence and support from an extensive web of national and regional funders, institutions, and states that invested time and resources and served as thought partners.

Lumina sought foundation partners to help spread ATD’s evidence-based approach and fund three more rounds of demonstration projects: KnowledgeWorks Foundation came on board, selecting and funding four colleges in Ohio, the Nellie Mae Foundation selected three Connecticut colleges and supported their planning and implementation work. In 2006, the initiative expanded to the states of Pennsylvania and Washington and to the Greater Houston area, bringing in 23 more institutions and three additional funders (The Heinz Endowments, College Spark Washington, and Houston Endowment Inc.). Lumina then sought to deepen and broaden the initiative’s work within several states already participating: Connecticut, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.

Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Carolina—and several institutions in Texas and Virginia had joined with a “self-funding” status. While some sites were pre-selected by the new funders, others were chosen through a competitive selection process during spring 2007. Colleges in Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Michigan received an initial planning grant in 2007-08 followed by larger four-year implementation grants from 2008 through 2012. In the other new states, colleges self-funded all or a portion of the cost of participating in ATD.

ATD’s institutional change model emphasized a continuous cycle of planning, testing, learning, trying new things, evaluating, and fine-tuning. The work within colleges required developing new ways for staff and faculty to work with students and each other, introducing more sophisticated data technology systems, and building inclusive teams to address key challenges. Early evaluations of ATD released by the Community College Research Council in 2006 indicated that participating colleges were meeting expectations, had strong leadership at the presidential level, and were organizing data to build a culture of evidence. Six colleges even showed signs of institutionalizing a culture of evidence after only one year. The colleges also were making broad foundational changes to improve student success by strengthening academic advising and orientation programs, revamping developmental education, and offering professional development for faculty and staff. The study showed that colleges had problems moving their use of data beyond collection and traditional compliance reporting. Other challenges related to the difficulty of building a new campus culture. Changing people’s thinking, communicating broadly to staff and students, and engaging faculty in the work, ATD knew, would take time and additional focus.

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