Mississippi’s Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) and Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit focused on increasing community college student success, have announced a new partnership that will enable two Mississippi community colleges to join the Achieving the Dream.

Specifically, WHEF has awarded a four-year grant of $900,000 to ATD to enable two Mississippi colleges to join its premier national reform network to advance student success. As part of the ATD Network, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) and Coahoma Community College (CCC) will receive on-site visits from coaches, information about successful, high-impact practices used by peer colleges, and access to resources, all of which will help the colleges increase the number of their students who complete certificates and degrees.

At a time when state funding to Mississippi’s 15 community colleges serving 75,000 students is being reduced, it is hard for colleges to make the reforms necessary to boost retention and completion. New philanthropic support for the two Mississippi colleges arrives at a critical moment.

“We know that without a postsecondary degree, nearly half of the poorest children in Mississippi will remain in poverty. The good news is that this figure decreases dramatically—to 10 percent—with a postsecondary education,” said Jim McHale, president and CEO, Woodward Hines Education Foundation. “Our board recognizes that a college degree is a game-changer.  They want to invest in institutions like Achieving the Dream that support community colleges and enable them to better serve all students.”

Community colleges are key institutions for leveling the playing field for low-income students, students of color, and first generation students who are hoping to earn degrees and credentials that support their economic and social mobility, and that in turn, support the economic and civic health of the communities in which they live,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Achieving the Dream is excited about our new partnership with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation and welcomes Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Coahoma Community College into our network.”

ATD will also offer MGCCC, CCC and the other colleges in its 2018 cohort access to a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment that allows them 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.  With the capacity framework as a guide, ATD helps colleges integrate and align any existing student success efforts with bold, holistic, institution-wide changes that research suggests can help more students succeed.

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