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RTC joins 'Achieving the Dream' initiative to help students succeed

Renton Technical College is among six colleges chosen from Washington State.

Renton, WA – Renton Technical College (RTC) has been selected as one of six community and technical colleges in Washington State to join Achieving the Dream: Community & Technical Colleges Count, a national initiative to help more community college students succeed. Renton Technical College will receive grant money and support to implement strategies to help more of its students — particularly students of color and low-income students ­ earn degrees, complete certificates or transfer to other institutions to continue their studies. This is the first time colleges in Washington State have participated in the initiative. The other five colleges are: Big Bend Community College, Yakima Valley Community College, Highline Community College, Tacoma Community College and Seattle Central Community College.

College Spark Washington has awarded Renton Technical College a $50,000 grant to plan and launch Achieving the Dream on its campus. The college will apply next year for an implementation grant worth up to $400,000 over four years. Additionally, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges will be eligible to receive up to $375,000 over a five-year period to assist with the initiative. College Spark has partnered with Lumina Foundation for Education to expand the Achieving the Dream initiative into Washington State and will provide approximately $4 million in grants and other services to support the initiative.

“The Achieving the Dream Initiative is an excellent opportunity for Renton Technical College to continue its work on helping students be successful. With our work on a Universal Design for Learning project, the Student Success Center and other initiatives, Achieving the Dream is a natural next step for us,” said Dr. Donald E. Bressler, President of RTC.

Renton Technical College is among 23 institutions nationwide joining Achieving the Dream as part of the initiative’s latest expansion. They join 35 colleges in seven states already participating, bringing the total number of Achieving the Dream colleges to 58 in nine states. More about Achieving the Dream, including a full list of participants, can be found online at www.achievingthedream.org.

“In Washington State, more than 60 percent of undergraduates attend our public community and technical colleges, and 58 percent of projected job openings will require at least some postsecondary education. These colleges are a critical access point to higher education and play a vital role by helping people of all backgrounds gain the skills they need in today’s job market,” said Christine A. McCabe, executive director of College Spark.

In addition to support from College Spark, funding for this latest group of schools is being provided by The Heinz Endowments for seven colleges in Pennsylvania, and by Houston Endowment Inc. for 10 Houston-area institutions. Start-up funding for Achieving the Dream was provided by Lumina Foundation for Education, which continues to provide funding for the 27 community colleges included in the initiative’s initial launch in 2004 as well as for other elements of the initiative’s work. A second round of colleges joined in 2005 with funding from Knowledge Works Foundation and Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Participating colleges identify strategies to help more students continue their studies and earn certificates and degrees. Strategies include helping students better prepare for college-level work by focusing on developmental education, engaging students in the classroom through new instructional techniques that include team learning and the combining of subjects to make learning more relevant to students’ lives, and using student success courses to teach skills such as time management and effective study skills.

Achieving the Dream is a multiyear initiative that focuses on improving the success of students and emphasizes the use of data so colleges can make more informed decisions. In addition to funding, participating colleges receive a range of support from the initiative’s partner organizations. Each college works closely with an Achieving the Dream coach, many of whom are former college presidents, and a data facilitator who provides hands-on help with the use of data.

Other partner organizations providing support to the initiative are the American Association of Community Colleges; the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin; the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University; Institute for Higher Education at the University of Florida; Jobs for the Future; MDC; MDRC; and Public Agenda.

About Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count is a national initiative to help more community college students — particularly students of color and low-income students —succeed. The initiative works on multiple fronts — including efforts at community colleges and in research, public engagement and public policy — and emphasizes the use of data to drive change.

About Renton Technical College
For 65 years, Renton Technical College (RTC) has prepared a diverse population for work, fulfilling the employment needs of individuals, business and industry. The college offers Certificates of Completion and Associate of Applied Science Degrees in over 70 full-and part-time career training programs. Each year, RTC provides services for a student population that is diverse and with different needs. 25% of the student population is enrolled in ESL, ABE and GED and 39% of the student population is of color. For many students, receiving financial aid makes it possible to get the education and skills needed to be successful in the workplace. In addition, approximately 78 % of RTC students receive some form of financial aid enabling them to continue their education.

About College Spark Washington
College Spark Washington’s mission is to fund programs that help low-income students become college-ready and earn their degrees. College Spark makes grants to organizations and institutions throughout Washington state that are helping low-income students improve their academic achievement, prepare for college life and graduate from college. Grantees include: community organizations and program providers, technical and community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, other educational institutions, and public agencies. Formerly known as Education Assistance Foundation, College Spark is a Washington nonprofit foundation. For more information about College Spark, please visit www.collegespark.org.

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