All 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology have been accepted into the national Achieving the Dream Network, bolstering their commitment to the success of all students.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a national nonprofit organization with a growing network of 277 community and technical 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 helps colleges close equity gaps and accelerate student success through a change process to strengthen such key institutional capacities as teaching and learning, engagement and communication, leadership and vision, data and technology, and others.
Colleges work intensively in Achieving the Dream for three years, establishing ATD teams on their campuses who work closely with a leadership coach and a data coach assigned to them to help them set and achieve goals related to student success. In addition to the coaches, many of whom are retired college presidents, ATD provides a platform for scaling up evidence-based effective practices and policies, a set of peers to share knowledge, and other expert sources of innovation.
The Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, located in communities across the state, are premier providers of workforce training in a broad range of career and technical fields, many of which can be completed in a year or less. The technical colleges, along with Tennessee’s 13 community colleges, comprise the College System of Tennessee, governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.
All 13 community colleges joined Achieving the Dream between 2015 and 2019. With the addition of the TCATs, all 40 community and technical colleges in the College System are part of the ATD Network – one of only a few statewide systems whose entire membership is in ATD.
“Achieving the Dream’s focus is helping all students succeed. The Tennessee Board of Regents community colleges joined the ATD Network during the last five years and the work has transformed campus culture to focus on student success and closing equity gaps. Now it’s time to extend that critical work to our Colleges of Applied Technology,” said TBR Chancellor Flora W. Tydings.
Presidents and faculty and staff representatives from each TCAT participated in a virtual ATD Kickoff Institute introduction and orientation session today. The Institute continues next week with smaller, regional TCAT group sessions with their ATD coaches. The Kickoff Institute focuses on an introduction to ATD’s approach, including a self-assessment that enables the teams to pinpoint their strengths and areas for improvement.
Next week’s sessions will take place during TBR’s We All Rise Biennial Conference on Equity and Completion, a systemwide series of workshops – to be held virtually this year – on creating inclusive- and equity-focused learning environments and enhancing capacity to meet the needs of diverse campus communities. The TCAT teams will work with their ATD coaches to begin planning for the integration and alignment of their student success initiatives.
“Our community colleges have benefitted by working with Achieving the Dream, especially as it relates to understanding the issues involved in closing equity gaps. By including the TCATs in this effort we can ensure that all of our students, regardless of the path they choose, have access to what they need to be successful,” said Dr. Wendy Thompson, TBR vice chancellor for organizational effectiveness.
Achieving the Dream, founded in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, welcomed the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology into the organization.
“During such a challenging time, it’s more important than ever to meet uncertainty with resilience, innovation, and a deepened commitment to student success and equity. We are extremely pleased to welcome the TCATs into our Network, whose members hold student success at the core of their work,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “We look forward to working with the TCATs on building their capacity for transformational change over the next three years and we are excited to welcome them to the Network.”
The 40 Tennessee community and technical colleges awarded a total of 22,998 degrees, diplomas and technical certificates during the 2019-20 academic year, paving the way for immediate careers in high-demand fields for graduates or transfer to four-year colleges and universities to continue their education.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.