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The Democracy Commitment is the leading national organization focused on the civic education of community college students.   To such an end, TDC  is an excellent source of information on community college curricular change, how community colleges are educating and engaging students in our democracy, and ensuring that community college voices are heard and do matter in our society.  TDC National Office aims to expand public and student civic knowledge and understanding. Welcome to the National Newsroom

What's New with TDC

The quarterly newsletter from TDC’s National Office is published at least once every semester and contains updates on TDC’s latest work, announcements, opportunites, and news from member institutions.  See below for the most recent issues and archives of previous issues.

National Blog

Our national blog contains important news, updates, announcements, and opportunities from TDC National’s Office on a weekly basis.  Sign up for the mailing list to receive notifications when they posted and check it out frequently to stay up to date.  Contact the national director for opportunities to contribute.

Opportunities for TDC Members | Frontiers of Democracy 2015

Courtesy of the American Democracy Project Blog

The Tuft’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service (Mass.) will be hosting the Frontiers of Democracy in Boston, Mass., this year. The conference will take place June 25-27, 2015.

Each year Frontiers of Democracy focuses on how to improve citizens’ engagement with their government, communities and the people around them. This year, specific topics include deliberative democracy, civil and human rights, social justice, community organizing and development, civic learning and political engagement, the role of higher education in democracy, Civic Studies, media reform and citizen media production, civic technology, civic environmentalism and common pool resource management.

While the main focus of the conference is interactive discussion, Frontiers will feature short talks from Harry Boyte (Center for Democracy and Citizenship), Hahrie Han (Wellesley College), Diana Hess (Spencer Foundation), Caroline Lee (Lafayette College), Ajume Wingo (University of Colorado) and Brenda Wright (Demos).

To learn more about Frontiers of Democracy 2015 and read about last year’s conference click here.

Updates & Announcements | Two New Best Practices User Guides Now Available

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

The Democracy Commitment is pleased to share with our members two new best practices user guides–one on Public Achievement and one on deliberative dialogues. As you may recall, we previously published best practice user guides for Engage the Election 2012 and 2014.

These best practice user guides are available for download in PDF format below:

#CLDE15 Update | Volunteer to Review Program Proposals

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

We are seeking volunteers to review program proposals for the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (#CLDE15) Meeting.

Specifically, we need faculty and staff members interested in and willing to review submitted proposals in the following categories:

  • Stewardship of Place – A Civic Mission of Higher Education
  • Partnerships between Academic and Student Affairs
  • Civic Pathways
  • Engaging Diverse Students
  • Developing Community Partnerships
  • Assessment of Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement

Proposals will be assigned in early- to- mid February and reviews will be due approximately two weeks after you receive your assignments via e-mail.

If you’re willing to be a reviewer, please complete this Google Form by February 5th:

Reminders: You can also:

·         Submit a program proposal by 11:59 p.m. on February 8th

·         Register for the conference (early bird deadline is April 27th)

More details about the conference can be found online.

TDC Welcomes New Interim National Manager

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

As TDC National Coordinator Stephanie R. South prepares to transition out of the role, TCD is excited to welcome a new interim national manager (the title change makes this position equivalent to the staff management of the American Democracy Project)–Gabriel A. Arteaga. You can learn more about him below. Please note: a national search for the permanent national manager will occur later this spring.

GabrielGabriel A. Arteaga is honored to serve as National Manager for The Democracy Commitment, where he is tasked with organizing community college students around politics and civic engagement. As the youngest of six brothers and sisters, born to Salvadoran immigrant parents, Gabriel seeks to uplift disadvantaged youths and families like his own.

Gabriel’s professional background centers on community organizing, fundraising, and public service. More recently, Gabriel served as the most senior district representative in the Hayward District Office of U.S. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-15). Prior to that, Gabriel was a Congressional Aide for U.S. Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-14), a Congressional Intern for US Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), and an Executive Assistant to the Progressive Era Project – a consortium of leading donors in California who seek to promote progressive policies and leadership for underrepresented communities.

Gabriel received his B.A. in Political Science and Law & Society from the University of California, Riverside. He is also a proud product of California Community Colleges, having graduated from the College of San Mateo (CSM). While at CSM, he served as a Student Senator, was President and Co-Founder of Latinos Unidos, and was selected to represent his college at the American Students Association of Community Colleges – Washington D.C. National Conference.

Currently, Gabriel serves on the board for La Familia Counseling Service – Hayward, an inclusive Latino community-based, multicultural organization committed to strengthening the emotional wellness of individuals and the preservation of families.

Gabriel was born in San Francisco, CA, enjoys playing soccer, and lives with his wife in Washington D.C.

Service Year + Higher Ed Innovation Challenge

Courtesy of the Franklin Project @ the Aspen Institute

The Franklin Project, the National Conference on Citizenship and the Corporation for National & Community Service announced the Service Year + Higher Ed Challenge on January 15th.

The effort challenges higher education institutions to create innovative new service year opportunities connected to academic credit for their students. All post-secondary education institutions are welcome to apply by March 6th and compete for $100,000 in prizes.The top three finalists in each category (public universities, private universities, and community colleges) will receive a stipend to travel to the Aspen Institute’s headquarters in Washington, DC, on April 15th to pitch their ideas in-person to a distinguished panel of judges, higher education, and national service experts and potential donors. Generous support from the Lumina Foundation has made the prize possible.

For more information, including how to apply, please visit Two Q&A conference calls will also be held on February 19th and 26th – please register on the About page if interested.


2015 Faculty Seminar in Yellowstone National Park

Courtesy of the American Democracy Project Blog

Announcing the American Democracy Project’s 2015 Faculty Seminar in Yellowstone National Park:
Stewardship of Public Lands:
Politics and the Yellowstone Ecosystem
July 27 – August, 1, 2015

How does a democracy manage competing but often equally legitimate positions over public resources? How are the rights of all citizens protected in conflicts over public lands? How do universities design courses and programs to help undergraduates develop the understandings and skills necessary to think about, and become engaged in, conflict management and resolution? How do we help undergraduates become more thoughtful, more engaged citizens for our democracy?

The American Democracy Project (ADP) is creating new strategies to answer these questions.

2015 marks the 11th summer of our Yellowstone seminar, part of the American Democracy Project’s Stewardship of Public Lands Initiative. The seminar, a partnership with the Yellowstone Association, is open to faculty members from any academic discipline.

For the last ten summers, we expanded the focus of the program to examine a variety of conflicts in the entire Yellowstone region, including bison and brucellosis, winter use, wolves, and grizzly bears. Our program is entitled Politics and the Yellowstone Ecosystem. In this program, we spend six (6) days in Yellowstone National Park in a combination of activities, beginning with a study of the science and history of the controversies, listening to scientists and Park rangers. Then we interview local citizens on both sides of the issues, including political activists, business people, ranchers, and other citizens.  At the end of the week-long program, we consider ways that faculty might develop programs on their own campus that focused on (1) national public resource issues such as wolf re-introduction and (2) local public resource issues such as oil drilling on national seashores, wind turbines in state parks, and restoration efforts in wetlands.

The goal of this project is to develop new strategies and new approaches that colleges and universities can use to help undergraduates become thoughtful, informed, and engaged citizens. In a political environment where special interest groups tend to push people to polarized positions, we often try to seek common ground.

The program, held at Mammoth Hot Spring Hotel at the northern end of the Park, begins late afternoon on Monday, July 27th and ends at noon on Saturday, August 1st. The cost of the program is $1,395, which includes five (5) nights individual room lodging at Mammoth Hotel (each participant will have a separate hotel room or cabin); all instruction and instructional materials, AV rental, classroom rental; in-park transportation; and reception and dinner the first night, as well as several other meals. Space does not allow for guest participation in the full program. However, family members or guests may attend some classroom lectures, a few field trips, and evening films and presentations.

Program Highlights:

  • A multi-disciplinary study of political conflict in the world’s first national park
  • Examine the political controversies over wolves, grizzlies, snowmobiles, and bison
  • Meet and listen to stakeholders on all sides
  • Learn how to design courses to help prepare informed, engaged citizens

To learn more, please visit

To register, complete this downloadable registration form (pdf).

Carnegie Selects Colleges and Universities for 2015 Community Engagement Classification

Courtesy of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has selected 240 U.S. colleges and universities to receive its 2015 Community Engagement Classification. Of this number, 83 institutions are receiving the classification for the first time, while 157 are now re-classified, after being classified originally in 2006 or 2008. These 240 institutions join the 121 institutions that earned the classification during the 2010 selection process.  The Foundation congratulates all 361 campuses on gaining this important designation.

Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Unlike the Foundation’s other classifications that rely on national data, this is an “elective” classification-institutions participated voluntarily by submitting required materials describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. This approach enabled the Foundation to address elements of institutional mission and distinctiveness that are not represented in the national data on colleges and universities.

“The importance of this elective classification is borne out by the response of so many campuses that have demonstrated their deep engagement with local, regional, national, and global communities,” said John Saltmarsh, Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education. “These are campuses that are improving teaching and learning, producing research that makes a difference in communities, and revitalizing their civic and academic missions.”

“This is the first time that there has been a re-classification process,” noted Amy Driscoll, Consulting Scholar for the Community Engagement Classification, “and we are seeing renewed institutional commitment, advanced curricular and assessment practices, and deeper community partnerships, all sustained through changes in campus leadership, and within the context of a devastating economic recession.”

Central to the classification process is a “documentation framework” developed by a team of advisors to help applicants (and reviewers) assess the nature of an institution’s community engagement commitments.  This year, 241 first-time applicants registered to receive the application, 133 institutions submitted applications, and 83 were successfully classified as community engaged institutions. Similarly, 188 campuses were eligible for re-classification, 162 submitted an application, and 157 were successfully re-classified.

Among first-time recipients of the classification, 47 are public institutions and 36 are private.  In terms of Carnegie’s Basic Classification, 29 are classified as research universities, 28 are master’s colleges and universities, 17 are baccalaureate colleges, three are community colleges, and five institutions have a specialized focus-arts, medicine, and other health professions. They represent campuses in 33 states and U.S. territories. In order to be selected, institutions had to provide descriptions and examples of institutionalized practices of community engagement that showed alignment among mission, culture, leadership, resources and practices.

The Foundation, through the work of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, developed the first typology of American colleges and universities in 1970 as a research tool to describe and represent the diversity of U.S. higher education. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education (now housed at Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Postsecondary Research) continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers and others.

A listing of the institutions that hold the Community Engagement Classification can be found on NERCHE’s website.

For more information, please contact John Saltmarsh, Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (; 617.287.7743), or Amy Driscoll, Consulting Scholar for the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification (

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to developing networks of ideas, individuals, and institutions to advance teaching and learning. We join together scholars, practitioners, and designers in new ways to solve problems of educational practice. Toward this end, we work to integrate the discipline of improvement science into education with the goal of building the field’s capacity to improve.

The New England Resource Center for Higher Education is committed to collaborative change processes in higher education to address social justice in a diverse democracy.

2015 State of the Union Watch Event & Tweet-Up (1.20.15 @ 7pm EST)

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

As President Obama prepares to deliver the 2015 State of the Union address on Tuesday (1/20), we are excited to announce that The Democracy Commitment will be continuing our tradition of engaging our students in a non-partisan discussion regarding the state of our democracy via Twitter. However, this year, in addition to a Tweet-Up, we will be live-streaming a student and Millennial-focused viewing event accessible from anywhere in the country and adding a polling component.

The Democracy Commitment has partnered with the American Democracy ProjectNASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, GVH Live, iCitizen, and the School of Communication at Illinois State University to provide comprehensive, exclusive, and interactive State of Union coverage on January 20th from the GVH Live event studio in Arlington, VA. This event will take place from 7 p.m. EST until 11 p.m. EST.

There are multiple ways to participate:

  • Tweet-Up:
    Throughout the event we will be participating in a social media conversation using the hashtag #iSOTU. To enhance engagement, please tweet at us (@TDCNational, @ADPaascu, @NASPAtweets, @GVHLive, @iCitizen, @ISUSOC_SMACC) using this hashtag. Illinois State University’s Social Media Analytics Command Center (SMACC) will provide analysis of our Twitter stream as well as of public conversations from social media outlets, popular discussion forums, and major blogs
  • Live-Stream:
    Available for free, coverage will be streamed live on the website and will include (in addition to the speech itself) podcasts, panel discussions by field experts and college students from ADP/TDC and NASPA campuses, live interviews by GVH correspondents, and real-time polling of thousands of participants provided by iCitizen through its interactive mobile app.
  • Polling:
    iCitizen will be conducting real-time polling through out the event to determine to gauge and analyze the opinions of Millennials from all over America. To participate in iCitizen’s live polling you will need to download their free mobile app here. Note: If you are a college student we recommend that you register with iCitizen using your college email address.

  • Show Up:
    If you are a student in the Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland region and would like to attend our screening in-person please visit our Eventbrite page here to receive your free ticket.

Please take a minute to share this widely with students, faculty members, administrators, and others whom might be interested in participating in this event.


ADP State of the Union Watch Event and Tweet-Up

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. EST

Twitter, GVHLive Website, iCitizen App, In-Person


#CLDE15 Update | CFP Reminder and Prompts

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the 2015 ADP/TDC/NASPA Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting in New Orleans from June 4-6, 2015 now is the time! Proposals are due February 8, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Submit your proposal(s) online here.

Note: We are using NASPA’s custom submission system for the call for proposals (CFP) this year.

To assist you in drafting your proposal(s), you’ll also find a Word document with the CFP prompts here:

Again, the proposal submission deadline is February 8, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

You can also register for and find additional information about the meeting here.

See you in New Orleans!

TDC Action Alert | ADP/TDC Query RE: MLK Day of Service 2015

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

In 1994, Congress passed the King Holiday and Service Act, designating the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service—a “day on, not a day off.”

Many American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment colleges and universities organize and sponsor MLK Day educational and volunteer activities, and we want to know what it is that your campus has planned for this year.

Please take a moment to fill out this survey.  Please note, information provided may be featured in upcoming ADP and TDC blog posts.

You’ll find more information on and resources for MLK Jr. Day of Service here: