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Achieving the Dream recognizes 2 colleges for improving graduation rates


Miami Dade College in Florida and Pierce College District in Washington state were honored for their efforts to improve student outcomes by national community college reform leader Achieving the Dream, which presented the schools with the 2017 Leah Meyer Austin Award at its annual conference this week in San Francisco, California.

The national award, sponsored by The Kresge Foundation and Achieving the Dream, is given annually to a college or colleges in the Achieving the Dream Network that show measurable improvement in student outcomes driven by top-to-bottom cultural change in the institution. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 prize for each college to continue its student success work.

In presenting this year’s award, Kresge Trustee Paula Pretlow noted that the foundation has supported Achieving the Dream for a decade through grants to support operations and expand the program to cities across the country as well as tribal colleges in Arizona and Montana. 

“We know we won’t achieve our goals without improving the educational outcomes of low-income Americans,” Pretlow said, referring to Kresge’s mission to expand opportunity in America’s cities. “That’s why we invest about $20 million a year into efforts to improve postsecondary access and success for those low-income students.”

“Kresge partners with Achieving the Dream to help scale proven student success reform efforts to additional colleges and to help those schools make better use of their student data,” said Bill Moses, managing director of Kresge’s Education Program. “We’re honored to sponsor and present these awards, which highlight high performing campuses each year. Seeing what they have accomplished reaffirms that this is a powerful national movement ensuring more low-income students gain the opportunity to graduate with a postsecondary degree.”

Miami Dade College’s three-year graduation rate increased from 31 percent to 34 percent, including an improvement of six percentage points for male students.

“Miami Dade’s commitment to increasing student completion drove the college to develop a change process that included new strategies, programs, activities, and interventions. Decisions were driven by what students needed to persist and complete their studies,” said Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream.

The three-year graduation rate for all Pierce College students increased from 22 percent in 2009 to 31 percent in 2013.

“Pierce College focused on better understanding its data in order to make big, college-wide changes to address its issue of dropping retention, course completion, and graduation rates for all students” said Stout.

Achieving the Dream Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. With more than 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students nationwide.