History: From Initiative to National Nonprofit

History: From Initiative to National Nonprofit

For the first time in U.S. history, the current generation of college-age Americans will be less educated than their parents’ generation, yet our workplaces require higher-level skills than ever before. A healthy economy and democracy depend upon an educated citizenry, and increasingly, because of rapidly changing demographics and record levels of poverty, that means creating the conditions for more low-income students and students of color to attain postsecondary credentials.

Community colleges are a vital component in returning the U.S. to its place as a global leader in higher education degree attainment. Achieving the Dream, the nation’s leading community college reform network serving 3.5 million students throughout 30 states and the District of Columbia, has been and will continue to contribute significantly toward the nation’s goal of increasing the number of Americans with a college certificate or degree with marketplace value within the next decade.

Achieving the Dream was conceived as a national initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation (Founding Investor) and seven founding partner organizations that are leaders in the higher education field: American Association of Community Colleges (AACC); Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin (CCLP); Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University (CCRC); Jobs for the Future; MDC; MDRC; and Public Agenda. 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) improving results at institutions, 2) influencing public policy, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public.

Over the course of six years, Achieving the Dream demonstrated that innovative, evidence-based community college programs and interventions can produce and sustain improved student success. In 2010, with the support of the Founding Investor and Founding Partners, Achieving the Dream’s Managing Partner (MDC) established an independent national nonprofit organization: Achieving the Dream, Inc. This nonprofit is led by an influential and diverse Board of Directors and professional leadership team, and continues to work closely with an extensive network of partners, investors, advisors, coaches, colleges, and state policy teams to help millions of community college students realize greater economic opportunity and achieve their dreams. Today, Achieving the Dream is the largest non-governmental movement for student success in higher education history.