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STLCC Joins Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count

May 18, 2010

Signifying a commitment to student success and institutional improvement, St. Louis Community College has joined Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count. STLCC joins 26 other community colleges from around the country in becoming members of Achieving the Dream and identifying new strategies to improve student success, close achievement gaps and increase retention, persistence and completion rates.

Conceived in 2004 by Lumina Foundation for Education and seven national partner organizations, Achieving the Dream is focused on creating a "culture of evidence" on community college campuses in which data collection and analysis drive efforts to identify problems that prevent students from succeeding – particularly low-income students and students of color – and on developing programs to help them stay in school and receive a certificate or degree. With these new institutions, Achieving the Dream’s network now includes more than 130 institutions in 24 states and the District of Columbia, reaching more than one million students.

STLCC is the first Missouri community college to participate in Achieving the Dream.

"Through our participation in Achieving the Dream, St. Louis Community College reaffirms its commitment to more fully develop the social and economic fabric of our community by increasing the number of area residents who access our courses, programs and services while improving the academic achievements and learning outcomes of all students who enroll with us," said Zelema Harris, STLCC chancellor. "New jobs are more demanding, and the demographics of the work force are changing. As a nation, we need to educate a competitive work force and stimulate local economies. To achieve these goals, we must provide educational opportunities – and maximize educational success – for everyone."

STLCC’s strategic directions and strategic choices (i.e. growing enrollment, improving academic achievement and student learning outcomes, and improving workforce responsiveness) align with this national initiative. College efforts are centered on recruitment and retention, increase student engagement, and supporting both traditional and adult learners in becoming college and career ready. STLCC also is focused on assessment in critical mission-based areas such as developmental education, and is addressing the increasing demand of meeting learning needs of underprepared and underserved learners in the St. Louis region.

"We’re very excited about these incoming institutions for a number of reasons," said William Trueheart, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. "Community colleges are at the forefront of the national college completion movement. To be successful requires a structured, committed focus on using data and evidence to make important decisions that will positively impact students, campuses and communities. St. Louis Community College has made a vital commitment that will provide benefits to students and the entire community for years to come."

Each new college has made an initial two-year commitment to focus its efforts on closing performance gaps among student sub-groups including students of color and low-income students. These colleges will not only learn from those that are already a part of Achieving the Dream, they will receive assistance from experienced practitioners in building a culture of evidence campus-wide, using data to identify problems, setting priorities, and measuring progress toward increasing student success. Achieving the Dream colleges make lasting changes in policies, programs and services that are integrated to support success for all students.

"Participation in Achieving the Dream seems to offer exactly what we need to bring our organization together around the common goal of student success," said Donna Dare, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. "Reaching that common goal also will enhance our capacity for districtwide systemic change. As we focus on student success, it is essential that we commit to consistent, well-defined objectives and stringent reporting requirements on core data elements. Achieving the Dream is an outstanding opportunity to move St. Louis Community College forward in meeting the diverse needs of our community of learners."