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McDowell Tech Joins Achieving the Dream Network

McDowell Technical Community College in Marion, North Carolina is pleased to announce that it is joining a group of more than 300 community colleges that compose the network of Achieving the Dream (ATD), the most comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for college student success in the nation. ATD Network colleges work to holistically advance student success and grow as catalysts for economically vibrant communities. By joining the ATD Network, McDowell Tech is committing to a tailored engagement in whole-college transformation and is gaining access to a nationwide network of peer support and expertise.

McDowell Tech is part of a 2023 cohort of 13 colleges joining the ATD Network during a time when community colleges have seen a steep decline in enrollment over the past several years. The college is making a bold statement that it is dedicated to doing better by its students and its community, says ATD president and CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout.

“The colleges in our 2023 cohort, like all ATD colleges, understand the role that community colleges play not just in in the social and economic mobility of their students as individuals but in lifting up entire communities,” she stated. “ATD’s focus on equity underpins the broad, transformational changes that our Network colleges experience and which, in turn, benefit the entire populations that they serve. These colleges are deeply invested in the process of change-making and have already identified goals toward greater student success. I’m excited to see how much further we can all go along this journey as they join our network.”

ATD photo l to r front Aprille Bailey, Dr Bo Bennett, Valerie Dobson, back Ladelle Harmon, Chuck Bowling, Dr Brian S. Merritt, Dr. Jonathon Howell, Stacy Buff

MTCC President, Dr. Brian S. Merritt indicates that McDowell Tech intends to work with ATD to build capacity for institutional research, reinvent and reimagine our college for adult learners, intensify collaborations with high school partners, and leverage community relationships to align programs with workforce development needs.

McDowell Tech joins the ATD Network alongside two other institutions, Arapahoe Community College (Colorado) and Piedmont Virginia Community College, in addition to 10 other 2023 cohort colleges that joined in February as part of the Accelerating Equitable Outcomes initiative funded in part by a gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Teams from McDowell Tech and each of the other new member colleges will convene in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from June 12 to 15 for a Kickoff Institute that will set the stage for their partnerships with ATD. The Kickoff experience will include an introduction to ATD’s Institutional Capacity Framework, a comprehensive assessment built on seven essential capacities that help colleges develop a student-centered culture leading to greater student success.

Collectively, the 2023 ATD Network cohort has a demonstrated commitment to tackling equity challenges, building a culture of data-informed decision-making, and maximizing the student experience through high-quality teaching and learning.

“At McDowell Tech, our vision statement is simple: We will learn and grow while focusing on individuals, our community, and our institution,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “Joining ATD is our next step to help reimagine how we move forward in a changing economic landscape. Our mission is critical to social and economic mobility, and we aim to help anyone who desires the opportunity to earn a degree or credential that could help lift them out of poverty.”

ATD Valerie Dobson, Aprille Bailey, Dr. Jonathon Howell, Dr. Bo Bennett, Chuck Bowling

About McDowell Technical Community College:

McDowell Technical Community College is located in Marion, N.C., a small, pleasant town at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains where welcome signs proudly announce, “Where Main Street Meets the Mountains.” Marion is located just off Interstate 40 in McDowell County, approximately 35 miles east of Asheville, NC.  Serving a rural area, MTCC is a proud member of the NC Community College System—one of 58 constituent institutions throughout the state. The mission of the college is to enrich our community with access to student-centered, affordable, high-quality, lifelong learning opportunities that promote workforce development. Our Vision is to learn and grow while focusing on individuals, our community, and our institution. We are committed to partnering closely with employers to intentionally create programming that meet local and regional workforce demands and to strengthen work-based learning opportunities that enrich the student learning experience.

With an annual enrollment of over 1,600 students in curriculum programs and in excess of 4,500 in continuing education, we produce strong and successful leaders in a wide variety of programs, especially healthcare and public safety careers (nursing, health information technology, law enforcement, and emergency medical services) and manufacturing & technical careers (welding, construction, mechatronics and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technology). We have a strong commitment to ensuring more equitable college access and graduation rates that advance social and economic mobility in our region.

About Achieving the Dream (ATD):

Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a partner and champion of more than 300 community colleges across the country. Drawing on our expert coaches, groundbreaking programs, and national peer network, we provide institutions with integrated, tailored support for every aspect of their work — from foundational capacities such as leadership, data, and equity to intentional strategies for supporting students holistically, building K–12 partnerships, and more. We call this Whole College Transformation. Our vision is for every college to be a catalyst for equitable, antiracist, and economically vibrant communities. We know that with the right partner and the right approach, colleges can drive access, completion rates, and employment outcomes — so that all students can access life-changing learning that propels them into community-changing careers.

Ryan Garrison, Interim President; Don Ramsey, Robert Ayers, Judge Corey MacKinnon, Trustees; Gary Stroud, Trustee Board Chair; Judge Ellen Shelley

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