Four Massachusetts community colleges awarded ‘Achieving the Dream’ grants: $3.5M program to focus on closing the achievement gap for Massachusetts students

June 6, 2007

Boston – Four local funding organizations have announced major grants to four Massachusetts community colleges as part of Achieving the Dream, a multiyear national initiative created to strengthen the ability of community colleges to help students of color and low-income students earn degrees and certificates by using data to close achievement gaps. The schools selected are: Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, Northern Essex Community College and Springfield Technical College. They were selected to take part in the program from among nine colleges applying for the program because of the strength of their applications. Massachusetts has a total of 15 community colleges, and 10 were eligible to apply.

“This is important news for the commonwealth,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Community colleges play a critical role in the education pipeline, and this program offers tools and support to strengthen them. Achieving the Dream will raise their visibility, identify effective strategies and encourage innovation for a set of institutions that serve our workforce development needs as well as the region’s educational agenda.”

Each of the four community colleges will use the awards to strengthen their institutional research capacity to address student achievement gaps, test new strategies for helping students perform well at school, and improve their outreach to communities, businesses and the public. The colleges will also work with a public policy team led by the Board of Higher Education to address important systemic changes needed to benefit all Massachusetts community colleges.

In the first year of the program, the four participating colleges will receive grants along with the services of a data coach and a data facilitator, to support the collection and analysis of student data in an open and rigorous way and to begin to make improvements at their colleges. The data collected will then form the basis for public policy advocacy for systemic change at the state level to benefit all community colleges in Massachusetts. Professional assistance will be provided by a number of national providers.

All of the colleges within the national Achieving the Dream network—a total of 82 institutions in 15 states—will be connected to each other to encourage the sharing of best practices and effective public policy strategies.

Local funding for the program will be provided by the Boston Foundation, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation and TERI, a Boston-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting educational opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds. Initial grants of $50,000 to four community colleges in the state will be followed by additional funding for implementation grants of up to $400,000 for each school, provided over four years. The national effort was developed by the Lumina Foundation and 17 national funding partners

“The recent spotlight has highlighted the complex issues facing community colleges,” said Kerry Sullivan, Senior Vice President for Philanthropic Management at Bank of America, which holds the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation. “This effort will create an opportunity for these institutions to refocus their energies on student success through participation in this strong national initiative.”

“Collaboration is critical for improving student success,” said Willis J. Hulings III, President and CEO of TERI. “We’re pleased to partner with these renowned foundations and community colleges to bring Achieving the Dream to Massachusetts. This is in line with TERI’s more than 20 years of work as a nonprofit organization to assist low-income, first generation students succeed in their efforts to obtain a higher education.”

This announcement represents the first time colleges in Massachusetts have been included within the Achieving the Dream network, which was launched in 2004 with start-up funding from Lumina Foundation for Education. Eight national organizations provide technical assistance to the colleges and the public policy team. These include the American Association of Community Colleges; the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin; The Community College Research Center at Teachers College; Columbia University; the Institute for Higher Education at the University of Florida; Jobs for the Future; MDC; MDRC; and Public Agenda. (More information about Achieving the Dream including a full list of participants is available at .)


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of over $830 million.  In 2006, the Foundation and its donors made more than $70 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $71 million.  The Foundation is made up of some 850 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.  The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.  For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit or call 617-338-1700.


The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation is a private family foundation devoted to strengthening the capacity of individuals, families and organizations in Hampden County by strengthening the quality of education for children and youth; ensuring the well-being of at-risk children, youth, and families; and enhancing the management, leadership and governance capabilities of nonprofit organizations in order to assist them in achieving their diverse missions.  Established in 1970, the foundation makes grants in a wide variety of fields, and is particularly dedicated to the educational success of children and youth.


The Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation was established in 1973.  The Foundation's three primary focus areas reflect Mr. Balfour's strong affinity for the employees of the Balfour Company, his commitment to the City of Attleboro, Massachusetts, and his lifelong interest in education.  Bank of America, Trustee of the L. G. Balfour Foundation, is responsible for the management of the Foundation’s assets and the administration of its grantmaking program.


TERI, a nonprofit organization in Boston, Massachusetts was founded in 1985 and promotes educational opportunities for all through its college access and loan guarantee activities. TERI is a national leader in promoting strategies for improving college access. The company manages college access programs that target low-income individuals and those who are the first generation in their families to attend college. TERI is also the managing partner of the Pathways to College Network, an alliance of over 30 nonprofit organizations and funders committed to advancing college access and success for underserved students. For more information:  or .