Danville Area Community College is one of 20 new community colleges in seven states to join Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count, a national initiative to help more community college students succeed.

The addition was announced Monday. The initiative has grown to include 102 institutions — 98 colleges and four universities — in 22 states.

Achieving the Dream is a long-term national initiative to help more community college students succeed — particularly those students who traditionally face the most significant barriers to success, including students of color and low-income students, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled that DACC has been selected to participate in such an important, ground-level effort to help students succeed,” said Dr. Alice M. Jacobs, president of DACC, in the release. “We have determined to help each student successfully pursue their individual goals while completing degree, certificate and other programs and being a part of Achieving the Dream will help us do an even better job.”

This most recent expansion of Achieving the Dream has been made possible with grants provided by four foundations across the country. Lumina Foundation for Education is making matching grants to provide first-year funding for community colleges in California, Illinois, Indiana, New York and Vermont. The Kresge Foundation is supporting an institution in Michigan. The Greater Texas Foundation is supporting several community colleges in Texas. The Vermont Community Foundation is providing grant support in Vermont. In some cases, the colleges themselves are funding their participation in the initiative.

Each new college has made a two-year commitment to focus its efforts on closing performance gaps among students in targeted populations.

“Achieving the Dream colleges are identifying methods for increasing student success and implementing interventions to create institutional improvements for all students,” said Carol Lincoln, a senior program director at MDC, Inc., the managing partner of Achieving the Dream and its national director, in the release. “We’re excited about bringing these new colleges into Achieving the Dream and continuing our tradition of providing educational and societal benefits to colleges, students and communities around the country.”

Achieving the Dream helps participating colleges implement strategies designed to help more students earn degrees, complete certificates or transfer to other institutions to continue their studies. The initiative emphasizes building a culture of evidence, in which colleges use data to identify effective practices, improve student success rates and close achievement gaps.

Other Illinois colleges joining the initiative are: Elgin Community College, Elgin; Morton College, Cicero; Triton College, River Grove; and Harper Community College, Palatine. In Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College is a new member.

DACC is an accredited public two-year community college providing higher education opportunities for more than 8,000 youth and adults in east central Illinois. Founded in 1946, the college district encompasses an estimated population of 89,000. The college has occupied a 75- acre campus at the east edge of Danville since 1965.

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