21st Century Initiative

In response to President Obama’s education agenda and challenge for community colleges to educate an additional 5 million students with degrees, certificates, or other credentials by 2020, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is leading advancement of the next era of community college evolution through its two-phase 21st Century Initiative.

21st Century Commission


Background Information

Working Briefs

In the News

Reclaiming the American Dream Video

Phase 1

The 21st Century Initiative Listening Tour gathered information from a diverse group of stakeholders from across the country in the following areas:

(1) student success

(2) Voluntary Framework of Accountability

(3) strategies for dealing with budget constraints

(4) big ideas for the future of community colleges

(5) what AACC can do for members

In a series of meetings, stakeholder groups comprising college faculty and staff, senior administrators, trustees, college presidents, and state policymakers provided regional perspectives on challenges and opportunities that community colleges confront.

Other goals included:

  • increasing focus and building momentum for the community college completion agenda and identifying AACC’s role in that effort;
  • promoting the contributions and challenges of community colleges among the public, policymakers, and business leaders;
  • building support for accuracy and accountability in monitoring community college performance.

Phase 2

The 21st Century Commission presented a final report, Reclaiming the American Dream, Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future: A Report from the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, at the 2012 AACC Annual Convention in Orlando, Florida, that was broadly disseminated to the nation’s more than 1,200 community, junior, and technical colleges; policymakers; business leaders; and others.

Phase 3

From 2013–2014, over 112 community college leaders participated on 9 implementation teams charged with developing specific strategies and model action plans to guide colleges in achieving the goals outlined in the 21st Century Implementation Report. The 21st Century Center is a living repository for the work of the teams and colleges in the field.