Achieving the Dream


Community colleges are an indispensable asset in our nation’s efforts to ensure and preserve access to higher education and success for all students, particularly students of color, low-income students, and other historically underrepresented student populations [1]. However, student access and success in higher education continues to be impacted by the effects of structural racism and systemic poverty. Achievement gaps among student groups reflect structural inequities that are often the result of historic and systemic social injustices. These inequities typically manifest themselves as the unintended or indirect consequences of unexamined institutional or social policies.

Achieving the Dream believes that access to a high quality education in an inclusive environment is the right of all individuals and imperative for the continued advancement of a strong democracy and workforce. Achieving the Dream also believes higher education institutions have an obligation to work toward equity for their students. Equity is grounded in the principle of fairness. In higher education, equity refers to ensuring that each student receives what they need to be successful through the intentional design of the college experience.

Achieving the Dream expects colleges to dismantle the barriers facing underserved students. Colleges must routinely scrutinize structural barriers to equity and invest in equity-minded policies, practices, and behaviors that lead to success for all students.

As an “Achieving the Dream” (ATD) school since 2014, Ventura College interacts with coaches that visit our campus over several times each year to assist us in the identification of areas in which we could improve regarding student success, equity, and campus wide effectiveness with all students but especially historically underrepresented students. They help us to employ a set of overarching principles of committed leadership, use of evidence, broad engagement, and systematic institutional improvement. Much as the process for identifying our Action Projects for our Accreditation Quality Focus Essays, ATD assists us in the identification and prioritization of challenges, requires the development of strategies to address the challenges, implement, evaluate, improve our strategies, and institutionalize effective policies and practices.

[1] Examples of historically underrepresented students include but are not limited to: first-generation, low-income, students of color; adult students; marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex students; students with second-language backgrounds; undocumented students; veterans; students with disabilities; students with dependents; foster care youth; and formerly and currently incarcerated students.

Ventura College - ATD Implementation Plan