Achieving The Dream

Achieving the Dream is a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success. Harford Community College has joined a network of higher ed institutions, coaches and advisors, state policy teams, investors and partners, to help our students and more than 4 million other community college students have a better economic opportunity and achieve their dreams.


Nearly one-half of all students seeking higher education choose a community college. Fewer than half of those students actually finish what they start.

Community colleges remain the nation's gateway to good jobs for millions of students who dream of a better tomorrow. Yet too often these dreams are cut short.

For the first time in our history, the current generation of college-aged Americans will be less educated than their parents' generation. Those without an education will be unable to compete in a national landscape that more than ever before demands high-level job skills.

Chart for Student-Focused Culture, surrounded by equal segments for engagement and communication, strategy and planning, policies and practices, leadership and vision, data and technology, equity, and finally, teaching and learning.

Harford Community College began its official membership with Achieving the Dream on June 2018 when a 10-member interdisciplinary team took part in the Kick-Off event in Cleveland, Ohio. Drs. Phillips, Jackson, and Thomas attended along with Dr. Wohlers, Dr. Karmel, Patrick Elliott, Valerie Swain, Nancy Dysard, Jennie Towner, and Elizabeth Mosser. At this meeting, they spent several days working alongside our Leadership Coach (Dr. Karen Stout) and Data Coach (Leon Hill) to further steep ourselves in the 7-capacities outlined by ATD.

Our entire campus community will be vital to the reflection necessary to fully maximize and maintain the benefits of membership with ATD. In early fall 2018, a broad cross-section of campus employees will take the Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT), which will allow us to self-assess our current progress in each of the seven capacity areas. Results will be made available to us at which time our coaches will lead the campus in a ‘World Café’ to review our trends and identify potential areas for growth. Around the same time, a core team and a data team will be identified to navigate our success efforts.

Much of this first year will be based on dialog and interaction as we meet with our coaches and leverage their services to align and scale existing programs or to develop new, wide-reaching initiatives. As our coaches mindfully get to know our campus and surrounding community, we will be able to create an integrated system of holistic, student-centered reforms that lead to educational and career success for the next generation of learners and leaders.

To enable the interactive nature of our ATD participation, we will be communicating regularly with the campus community about ATD-related activity and expectations. There will also be an electronic hub to help disseminate and collect information pertinent to the seven capacities and the application to HCC programs.


March 2019

Members from across the Harford Community College community recently attended the national conference for Achieving the Dream, DREAM 2019. During this 3-day immersive learning experience, we were able to further steep ourselves in meaningful conversations around high-impact practices for improving student success. Some of the main take-aways included the importance and application of a growth mindset, specific tactics for reaching adjunct faculty, and how to address the needs of our students in a holistic way. We met with local, sister institutions to information share, but also benefited from the entire ATD network of schools, learning from institutions located as far as Washington State and even New Zealand! The HCC team was also able to meet with our Leadership and Data Coaches to continue dialogue about our data story and emerging themes that will be an integral part of the Strategic Plan. Information, perspectives, and ideas gained during this experience will be infused into the work of the Core and Data Teams this spring semester and we look forward to hearing more from attendees about what they learned!

April 2020

Concurrent with our strategic planning process, the College was working to address gaps in achievement for students of color and low-income students. Through this work, we identified four emerging themes related to student success; these themes have been integrated into our 2020-2024 strategic plan. We acknowledge that the landscape of higher education is changing rapidly, and have resolved not only to adapt to those changes, but to meet them head-on.

HCC's 3-Year Plan

Year One, FY-18

  • June 2018: Kickoff Institute in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Fall 2018: First ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • September-May: Monthly Webinars
  • October 29, 2018: Data Summit
  • November 12-27, 2018: Complete Institutional Capacity Assessment Tool (ICAT)
  • January 10, 2019: Capacity Cafe
  • January 10-11, 2019: Second ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • February 2019: DREAM 2019
  • April 2019: Third ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • May 2019: Action Plan Due

Year Two, FY-19

  • Fall 2019: First ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • September 2019: DREAM 2020 Workshop Proposal Due (optional)
  • February 2020: DREAM 2020
  • Spring 2020: Second ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • May/June 2020: Annual Reporting Due

Year Three, FY-20

  • Fall 2020: First ATD Coaching Team Site Visit
  • September 2021: DREAM 2021 Workshop Proposals Due (optional)
  • February 2021: DREAM 2021
  • Spring 2021: Second ATD Coaching Team Site Visit

Learn more at