Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Coahoma Community College join national higher education reform organization Achieving the Dream with WHEF support
Silver Spring, MD (February 16, 2018) – 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 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to join the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. Specifically, WHEF has awarded a four-year grant of $900,000 to ATD to enable MGCCC and Coahoma Community College to join its premiere national reform network to advance student success. As part of the Network, MGCCC 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 increase the number of 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 into our network.”
“Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is dedicated to academic excellence and student success,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president. “Thanks to the partnership with Woodward Hines Education Foundation and Achieving the Dream, MGCCC will be able to help more individuals reach their educational goals.”
ATD will also offer MGCCC 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.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, a 106-year-old institution, serves students in the four counties of George, Harrison, Jackson and Stone with 10 campuses and centers. Whether it is in traditional college classes or a career, technical, workforce or adult education program, Gulf Coast’s goal is to provide the very best learning opportunities for South Mississippi residents. Named a top-100 associate-degree producer and Military-Friendly College again this year, MGCCC remains at the forefront of innovation and academic excellence on a national level. The proof of that quality is in the numbers—MGCCC has a 94 percent graduation rate among student athletes, a 93.7 percent job placement rate for career and technical and health science graduates, and a 95.9 percent licensure exam passage rate among that same student population.
Woodward Hines Education Foundation
The Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) is a nonprofit organization committed to helping more Mississippians obtain postsecondary credentials, college certifications, and degrees that lead to meaningful employment. Since WHEF’s inception, it has worked to increase college access and entry for young people in Mississippi and has expanded that work to support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion.
Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of more than 200 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth, and economic opportunity. ATD is making progress closing academic achievement gaps and accelerating student success through a unique change process that builds each college’s institutional capacities in seven essential areas. ATD, along with more than 100 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with Network colleges in 39 states and the District of Columbia to reach more than 4 million community college students.
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