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Halifax Community College has joined the Achieving the Dream organization as part of the first cohort of colleges in its new Building Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work Initiative, which aims to increase equitable student success by strengthening rural colleges’ capacity to prepare students for careers in today’s economy.  

The organization offers colleges a diverse suite of supports, programs, and resources that specifically match their student success needs and are available to institutions within or outside of the ATD Network. 

There are a number of service options of various intensities, duration, and price points for institutions to select from to meet their needs and to advance their student success work.

A PDF of the program’s brochure offers more information and can be downloaded at this link.

“Rural community colleges have long served as drivers of their communities’ economic and civic vitality, playing a critical role in ensuring social and economic mobility,” said ATD President and CEO Karen A. Stout. “As Achieving the Dream works to support our colleges in fostering diverse and equitable campuses, we are mindful of the importance of building a network that reflects the diversity of institutions across our country.”

Stout said this initiative “adds to ATD’s experience working with other rural colleges in our network as well as the nation’s tribal colleges and universities, offering new learning opportunities around the role of rural community colleges as workforce and economic development engines.” 

HCC President Michael Elam said, “Being part of an international Achieve the Dream organization is a great opportunity for HCC. The staff and faculty will have access to training and Achieve the Dream offers us ways to evaluate our efforts while planning for the future with data driven decisions.”

Said Elam: “This is a wonderful opportunity for HCC to be recognized on the international stage. The talent and data we will have available to HCC will make a difference for our students and the community.” 

Building Resiliency in Rural Communities for the Future of Work will increase rural colleges’ capacity to succeed with whole-college reform efforts, provide students with the workforce skills needed in today’s and tomorrow’s economy, and connect students with careers in the digital economy that pay family-sustaining wages. 

In addition, participating institutions’ reform efforts will include providing academic and personal support and narrowing equity gaps. 

The seven colleges that have joined this initial cohort, and the ATD Network, include: 

Berkshire Community College – Pittsfield, Massachusetts 

Clovis Community College – Clovis, New Mexico 

Columbia-Greene Community College – Hudson, New York 

Halifax Community College – Weldon

Louisiana State University-Eunice – Eunice 

Northwest Mississippi Community College – Senatobia 

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College – Cumberland

“Achieving the Dream is thrilled to work with these colleges to build a deeper understanding across higher education — and among policy and funding communities for how rural colleges and their partners can promote the economic mobility of students, particularly as part of our equity work,” said Monica Parrish Trent, ATD’s vice president for network engagement.  

“Equitable access to skills and real-world work experience is key to connecting students to good jobs, regardless of their ZIP code,” said Monique Baptiste, vice president of global 

philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “As part of JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to advance racial equity and prepare people for the future of work, we’re committed to driving an inclusive economic recovery, including strengthening community college programs and connecting students to the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.” 

Julie Gehrki, vice president of philanthropy for the Walmart Foundation, said, “Rural community colleges are well equipped to provide upskilling opportunities for the rapidly changing workforce in their areas. Walmart’s investment will enable Achieving the Dream to accelerate their work with these colleges, and we’re thrilled to support their effort.” 

Said Amy Kerwin, vice president of education philanthropy at Ascendium Education Group, said, “We recognize that rural community colleges are anchors in their communities, providing opportunities for learners, employers and the local economy. We’re pleased to support this cohort as they exchange ideas on how to initiate large-scale institutional change to prepare and increase the number of rural learners from low-income backgrounds that graduate and enter the workforce.” 

 The initiative is funded by the Cognizant U.S. Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Community Focus Fund at the Chicago Community Foundation, Walmart, and Ascendium Education Group.