GRCC awarded Achieving the Dream Leader College status



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications

(616) 234-4213

Sept. 22, 2015 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Achieving the Dream announced today that Grand Rapids Community College was one of 19 community colleges nationwide to earn Leader College distinction – a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps.

GRCC has shown how data can inform policy and practice to help students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities and the nation.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as a Leader College,” President Dr. Steven C. Ender said. “Our collaborative partnership with Achieving the Dream has strengthened our ability to stay true to our mission of being an open-access college that prepares individuals to attain their goals and contribute to the community.

“Our progress has been slow, but steady, with the college seeing increases in most measures.”

Data from the 2009-10 academic year shows that 27.8 percent of students successfully completed the developmental English requirement by 2011-12. After GRCC implemented its FastTrack program in 2012 – a program designed to reduce the need for developmental education – data shows that 45.4 percent have completed this requirement.

Since 2012, 1,520 students have been recruited into FastTrack, with almost 79 percent completing the three-week program. Of that number, 71 percent were able to bypass one or more developmental courses.

“Becoming a Leader College is very powerful and affirms the exceptional work and commitment of faculty and staff to their students’ success,” said Cindy Lenhart, Achieving the Dream vice president for community college relations. “Grand Rapids Community College is using evidence to make informed decisions that lead to significant institutional change.”

2015 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges

Bakersfield College

(Bakersfield, CA)

Kingsborough Community College

(Brooklyn, NY)

Bellingham Technical College

(Bellingham, WA)

Lorain County Community College

(Elyria, OH)

Century College

(White Bear Lake, MN)

Muskegon Community College

(Muskegon, MI)

College of Southern Nevada

(North Las Vegas, NV)

North Lake College

(Irving, TX)

Columbus State Community College

(Columbus, OH)

Paris Junior College

(Paris, TX)

Cumberland County College

(Vineland, NJ)

Southwestern Oregon Community College

(Coos Bay, OR)

Delta College

(University Center, MI)

St. Clair County Community College

(Port Huron, MI)

Gaston College

(Dallas, NC)

St. Petersburg College

(St. Petersburg, FL)

Grand Rapids Community College

(Grand Rapids, MI)

West Los Angeles College

(Culver City, CA)

Jefferson Community & Technical College

(Louisville, KY)



The 2015 Leader Colleges are making strides in the national movement to increase student completion and close achievement gaps, demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Approach. With the guidance of Achieving the Dream coaches, colleges not only systemically change the way they operate, but they also implement key student supports that align with their overall policies and institutional systems, such as college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student success courses, development course redesign, curriculum redesign, and interactive and individualize advising.

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After that time, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 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 have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.