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Grant to help implement 21st-Century Commission blueprint

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​The Kresge Foundation has awarded a $500,000 grant to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to help implement the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission to revamp community colleges.

Over the next two years, AACC will work with leaders of the nation’s more than 1,100 community colleges and other organizations to devise strategies to disseminate and implement the recommendations of the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. The commission released its findings and recommendations in April.

"We are very intent on making the results of the commission's work a plan of action for AACC and a roadmap to the future for community colleges," said AACC President Walter Bumphus.

Getting the word out

Members of the commission will serve as public advocates through a new speaker's bureau, webinars, virtual forums, press events and other activities.

Altman Smith, a senior program officer with Kresge, said part of the grant will go toward helping community stakeholders better understand the role of community colleges and how to assist colleges in improving.

"We are confident the campaign will help policymakers, the business community and the general public better understand the contributions and challenges of community colleges and galvanize the reforms needed to improve and strengthen these institutions,” Smith said.

Task force on strategies

AACC’s plan includes creating a national 21st-Century Implementation Task Force that will be chaired by Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College (Ohio). Other task force members will include leaders representing students, national organizations, state community college systems and regionally representative institutions. The task force will meet in person and virtually over the next two years to develop strategies and tactics and to engage college leaders.

“We will be tackling some of the toughest challenges and responding to the most formidable expectations in our history—from providing a seamless pathway through college to work, to increasing rigor and transparency, to eliminating excessive need for remediation," Bumphus said. ”It will take our best minds and our most unified effort, but I have confidence we can achieve the commission's goals and create a totally new learning experience for our students."

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