Achieving the Dream is a network of more than 200 colleges, each committed to seeing all of its students fulfill their higher education dreams. Become an Achieving the Dream college and embark on a process of change and growth that you direct in the company of other unique institutions.

Southwest President's Announcement


Eight Reasons To Join Achieving the Dream

1. To be part of a premier peer learning network.

You’ll have unparalleled access to colleagues at leader colleges and other institutions that have, as a group, significant experience in all aspects of campus transformation. You can contribute your college’s experience to the ATD network and benefit from expertise available through early adopter colleges, mentor colleagues and fellow travelers on the road to improved student persistence and completion. Learning with and from your peers will create a new level of enthusiasm for achieving your student success goals.

2. To improve teaching and learning.

Increasing completion means committing to strengthening teaching and learning, the heart of students’ higher education journey. ATD helps colleges engage adjunct and full-time faculty by introducing meaningful professional development and defining central roles for faculty as change agents within the institution. ATD provides opportunities to learn from peers, expert practitioners, and leaders in pedagogy. You also will be able to work with ATD—a partner in drafting the Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education— to restructure developmental education to accelerate students’ progress to and through gateway courses and programs of study that lead directly to a college credential.

3. To make decisions informed by solid data and student progress monitoring.

A new suite of data diagnostic tools just made one of ATD’s most valued areas of expertise even more powerful. We’ll help you measure what matters throughout the student journey; put actionable data into the hands of faculty, administrators and institutional leaders; and provide benchmarks to show you how you stack up against exemplar institutions. We’ll also help you assess your tech systems, introduce you to next-generation options, and support you in leveraging the power of technology to help students move into and through college.

4. To build institutional capacity to support more student success.

ATD offers a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment that allow you 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. ATD deploys coaches to college campuses to act as trusted counselors who provide coordinated, personalized advice to help build needed capacities, align student success efforts and support change where it’s needed. Webinars, learning events, virtual coach support and participation in communities of practice help between coaches’ visits. Strengthening institutional capacity facilitates transformative change, promotes a positive college culture, and accelerates progress toward meeting student success goals, accreditation and performance-funding expectations.

5. To get every person and program on the same page.

Creating a student-focused culture requires college leadership, faculty, staff, and students to work together in ways that are intentionally designed to support the whole student journey to success. We encourage the use of processes that engage the entire campus community and seek thoughtful contributions from all. To help everyone make sense of all the moving parts and combat initiative fatigue, Achieving the Dream brings improvement efforts under one cohesive umbrella. We’ll work with you to integrate the best thinking of the community college reform movement with the successful strategies already underway on your campus.

6. To address equity and achievement gaps.

Colleges with a student-focused culture ensure all students receive what they need to be successful. By creating opportunities for historically underrepresented student populations, ATD especially encourages colleges to have candid conversations about equity, introduce reforms at scale, and analyze disaggregated data to find out when and how students may be struggling. Armed with this information, coaches and colleges can work to eliminate barriers and solve problems to improve all students’ college journeys. Research shows that when changes are made that improve equity for underserved students, the overall quality of education for all students increases

7. To be the first to learn about and test exciting new approaches.

The nation’s leading foundations fund ATD to incubate and disseminate new ideas and sharpen approaches in everything from increasing student resilience, strengthening guided pathways, and establishing practices that put students on solid financial footing even before they graduate from college. In fact, ATD leads 10 funded projects to foster innovation and support new ways of meeting student success goals and is launching more every year.

8. To make more progress toward completion—and accountability—goals.

Students at ATD campuses are finding more success moving through their educational journeys to achieve their goals: career-focused certificates, associate degrees or transfer to four-year institutions. ATD provides you with resources, strategies, and support to bring about the kind of holistic change that will allow far more of your students to achieve these outcomes.

For more information please visit the Achieving the Dream website, email at or call 240-450-0075. Additionally, review the "Improving Student Success in Community Colleges: Achieving the Dream 2015 Annual Report.