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Achieving the Dream Celebrates 15 Years with DREAM Conference in February

Since 2004, Achieving the Dream (ATD) – a national, nonprofit leading organization that has helped more than 4 million community college students achieve academic success and close opportunity gaps – will hold its 15th annual DREAM convening in Long Beach, CA from Feb. 19-22.

The annual DREAM conference unites over 2,000 college practitioners, investors, policymakers and thought leaders around the nation to discuss important issues such as expanding student success, equity, student poverty, hunger and homelessness and student-focused decision-making.

DREAM 2019 is available to colleges and universities regardless of whether an institution is a part of the Achieving the Dream Network.

The conference “really covers the whole gamut of what community colleges should be doing to holistically support their students,” said Bonita J. Brown, vice president for network engagement at ATD and lead organizer of DREAM.

Achieving the Dream will host a variety of spotlight sessions, plenaries and over a hundred of interactive workshop and sessions that will allow conference participants to share their best practices and network informally with speakers and colleagues during receptions and other events.

Bonita J. Brown

For this year’s convening, DREAM will host a day-long interactive Equity Institute before the conference begins, where institutional teams will participate in learning opportunities and activities to help create a more in-depth understanding of what equity means, what it looks like in practice and how it is demonstrated on campuses.

During the Equity Institute pre-conference workshops, ATD will host a couple of speakers, but then will break the participants up into teams. Once the teams have been established, they will “develop equity plans for their campus, a scorecard, they will practice drafting equity statements and what words, they’re going to look at vision statements and what equity vision statements could and should look like,” Brown said.

“There, they actually will walk away with some ideas, with some plans, with some examples of what they should be doing and looking for as far as equity for their college,” Brown added.

Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, president of the American Indian College Fund and one of the presenters during the Thursday, Feb. 21 Morning Plenary Session, is even arriving early to attend a pre-conference session on Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), in addition to other planned conference activities.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to hear the successful approaches that people are taking with a variety of students. I’m especially interested right now in how students are challenged to have their basic needs met,” Crazy Bull said. “I see increasingly this is a justice and equity issue that is, students are expected to go to college but they don’t have access to food or shelter or reliable transportation or childcare. That’s not a very equitable expectation.”

Crazy Bull’s presentation will focus on the holistic approach that TCU’s take to educate their students and the ways that Tribal Colleges and Universities as Indigenous place-based institutions provide support that is rooted in native identity and kinship and is supportive of the whole person.

Other speakers include Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, the president of Paul Quinn College, author Wes Moore and Diverse executive editor, Dr. Jamal Watson.

In honor of ATD’s 15th anniversary, the organization has invited back some of its founders and partners in higher education in addition to its first board members.

It’ll almost be like a family reunion, Brown said.

“We’re excited about bringing them all together and celebrating them,” she added.

Brown said that one could benefit from attending the DREAM 2019 conference in several ways. It’s a great opportunity to network with like-minded people who are working to support students from across the country and is a good resource for community college administrators and faculty to utilize when trying to advance their institution, she added.

“You can go and learn what other colleges have done well, what’s worked, what has not worked, you can learn that way,” Brown said. “You can also hear about what’s coming forward in the future that colleges might be grappling with coming up on the landscape so that you can benefit in a variety of ways.”

To learn more information about the DREAM 2019 Conference and register, please go to

Monica Levitan can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_.

This story was first published in CCNews.

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