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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.

REMINDER: Constitution Day Less Than a Month Away

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

In less than a month, The Democracy Commitment will join the rest of the United States in commemorating the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine brave men on September 17, 1787.

Although educational institutions in the United States that receive federal funding must observe Constitution Day, the real reason we celebrate it is the memorialization of our inalienable rights. What was penned in this document has been fought for and protected by courageous men and women decade after decade, and it has inspired countries around the world to form similar documents and manifestations.

This is a day to take pause and remember all of this.

And this post is a reminder that Constitution Day is coming up on Wednesday, September 17, 2014.

If you need a little inspiration and want to read what some of your TDC colleagues did last year, check out this blog entry on Community College of Allegheny County (Pa.) or this one on Sinclair Community College (Ohio).

If you are in need of resources, please visit the American Democracy Project’s webpage on this Special Day in Action.

And finally, if you already know what you are doing, I would love to hear about it. Please take just a moment to fill out this short survey about your plans. With this information, I intend to create a summary of Constitution Day activities and events that I can share with all TDC member campuses on the national blog and on our webpage. Your response will be an invaluable contribution.

What We’re Watching: How Democracy Works Now (Available on Netflix)

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

So, we may not actually be watching it right now, but it is in our Netflix queue for this weekend.

In the summer of 2001, filmmakers Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini set out to make a film about the “story of how a great think thank becomes a law.” However, as is oft the case with the artist’s way, Robertson and Camerini found themselves pursuing an alternative route.

For the next six years, these filmmakers made their way from California to Arizona to Kansas to Iowa to Capitol Hill, following stories on comprehensive immigration reform and learning “about how democracy does in fact work.”

The product?

Twelve discrete films about several dozen fascinating people in all kinds of places, each connected by a commitment to change the way that the United States handles the bedrock national identity issue of immigration.  Together, the twelve films make up one very big story, and though we surely didn’t realize it at that point, it’s exactly the story we would have wanted to find in 2001.  

-Shari Robertson and Michael Camerini, About the Series

On the website for the series, you can find background, reviews, and video clips that preview the film, which, as I mentioned, is now available on Netflix. Additionally, there are also three iBooks available in the iTunes bookstore—How Democracy Works Now, Volumes 1 – 3— that are free to download; each volume covers four films with special suggestions to help educators to identify clips and craft lesson plans.

Happy watching!

Help TDC Recruit New Members; Pass This Along

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

The Democracy Commitment has grown to 78 members with some 200 campuses across 21 states, and we are looking to continue to expand.

In the annual update that TDC Co-Founder and De Anza College President Brian Murphy recently distributed to all member presidents,  he encouraged each of them to reach out to one other community college president who is not yet a TDC member, and we would hope that each of you, as TDC Campus Coordinators and friends, will do the same this upcoming academic year.

In the coming weeks, we will be updating some of our promotional materials to include a fresh TDC FAQ sheet and a one-pager on the importance of civic engagement in higher education. Already, we have worked to create a TDC testimonial sheet featuring TDC member chancellors, presidents, faculty members, and students.

TDC Testimonial Sheet Screenshot

We intend to make these productions available to you as they are completed, and we hope that these resources will be helpful to you as you reach out to your colleagues and connections about the value of educating today’s community college students for democracy.

TDC Event: Minnesota ADP/TDC/CC Civic Summit

Courtesy of the American Democracy Project; see the original posting here.

Ten years ago, St. Cloud State University (Minn.) hosted one of the first collaborative regional conferences of AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) and Minnesota Campus Compact. Today, civic engagement is more widely recognized as a strategy for supporting students’ academic success and preparation for work, life and citizenship. Yet our work is not finished, and our campuses continue to seek deeper integration of civic learning and engagement into the student experience and campus culture, as well as a clearer sense of the public and educational value of civic work.

This September 28th and 29th, St. Cloud State University will again host another collaborative regional civic engagement conference, designed by two partner organizations, AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) and Minnesota Campus Compact, and now joined by a new community college civic education organization, The Democracy Commitment (TDC).  The conference brings together administrators, faculty, staff, students and community partners to further advance the progress we have made together at a regional summit at on September 28 and 29, 2014.

Those in attendance at the Realizing the Civic Mission of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities conference can expect to:

  • Listen to presentations from local and national leaders
  • Share their own experiences, knowledge, questions, and results
  • Build connections across the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system to advance civic learning and work
  • Develop next steps for their campuses with feedback from colleagues
  • Increase their awareness of resources and initiatives available through state and national networks.

Participation is open to anyone interested. While we encourage participants to come as part of an institutional team, individual campus representatives are also welcome.

To find out more about the schedule, conference fees and accommodations, and to register for the event, please visit:

We thank Hobsons for generously supporting this event and helping to make this program possible

REQUEST FOR SUBMISSIONS: AASCU/New York Times Education Toolkit

Courtesy of the American Democracy Project

The host of The Democracy Commitment’s national headquarters and the American Democracy Project’s (ADP) parent organization, The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), has partnered with The New York Times education division to create a toolkit that will demonstrate how instructors at AASCU institutions and TDC member schools are using the Times in the classroom. The toolkit will serve the dual purpose of showcasing the good work these institutions do and acting as a guide for instructors curious about how to integrate the Times into their own teaching.

This is a call for submissions: if you or one of your colleagues uses The New York Times we encourage you to fill out this submission form. We’re looking for syllabi and class assignments that feature The New York Times, as well as any anecdotes, examples or observations from your use of The Times in the classroom.

Please consider submitting.  We hope to feature your work in this national publication, which will be distributed to AASCU’s 420 member institutions and all TDC members, as well as made directly available by The New York Times to partner colleges and universities.

Updates & Announcements: Official Call for Participation for TDC/ADP Economic Inequality Initiative Now Available

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

Last February, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) joined the American Democracy Project (ADP) and former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich at San Francisco State University for a live webcast about his documentary film, Inequality for All. This event served as the inspiration for the first joint national initiative between TDC and ADP, a project centered on economic inequality and co-led by Mount Wachusett Community College (Mass.) and Keene State College (N.H.).

Today, TDC and ADP are pleased to join our lead institutions in announcing a call for participation. We are seeking a small cohort of two- and four-year member institutions to join us in a three-year initiative to understand the impact of economic inequality on our democracy. The goal of this initiative is to help students think about and take action to confront the complex causes of growing economic inequality. We envision developing, implementing and documenting innovative, interactive curricula and experiential learning modules that can be adapted across our campuses and communities. Participating institutions will work together to study the relationship between public policy, economic inequality, economic opportunity and social mobility to prepare undergraduates for lives of informed civic engagement.

Participation in the initiative is open to any TDC or ADP member institution.

To read the call for participation in its entirety and access the application to join the initiative, click here.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me at

#e214 State-Specific Webinars Hosted by CVP & TDC

By  Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

Previously, we introduced you to Fair Elections Legal Network (FELN) and its Campus Vote Project (CVP).  TDC is very excited to be working with the Campus Vote Project to promote student electoral engagement at TDC partner campuses. Community colleges educate millions of students who are often overlooked by political campaigns and university registration and GOTV efforts. Because limited attention is paid to our students, the need for greater civic engagement education and efforts is even more critical.

The partnership with CVP, along with our other national partners in our Engage the Election 2014 initiative, aims to improve voting rates of community college students and members of their communities by engaging students and providing essential registration and voting information, as well as providing leadership training for mobilization programs on campus and in the surrounding communities. FELN has long-standing professional relationships with local election officials in virtually every state, and will work with us to support poll-worker programs to increase exposure to elections for our students, fill the need for younger and technologically savvy poll workers and the shortage of bi-lingual poll workers in many communities.

Currently, CVP has dedicated field staff on the ground at work in several states, and we expect them to be reaching out in the near future to campuses in those states via the TDC Campus Coordinator. This is an opportunity to work with a national nonprofit organization whose sole work is increasing access to voting. More important, they have resources for our campuses in our on-going efforts to increase voter education and issue awareness, and engage our students in the electoral process in multiple ways.

In partnership with TDC, CVP will be hosting state-specific webinars that will cover the basics of registering and voting in your state, what types of non-partisan activities administrators and faculty can engage in, and best practices for democratic engagement activities; there will also be a Q&A session.

There are upcoming webinars scheduled for Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, and Ohio. For the complete schedule and access details, click here.

We hope you will pass along this information to your colleagues and that someone will be able to join.


Take a Timeout Today; Remember Why We Celebrate

Courtesy of The National Archives

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Updates & Announcements: Innovations 2015 Announces Call for Proposals

By Stephanie R. South, TDC National Coordinator

The League for Innovation in the Community College, which has worked closely with The Democracy Commitment in the past, has just announced that it is accepting proposals for its 17th annual conference in Boston, Massachusetts from March 8 – March 11, 2015.

At last year’s conference in Anaheim, TDC made a proud showing at Innovations with over 50 individuals from TDC member campuses presenting at different points in the program. We hope to do the same thing this spring at Innovations 2015, and I encourage you to submit your proposal.

Conference proposals will be accepted through September 26, 2014.

For proposal guidelines and more information, click here.

#ADPTDC14 Meeting in Review: Forging Civic Pathways for Student Success

By Jen Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, American Democracy Project

Our recent 2014 ADP/TDC National Meeting in Louisville, Ky. brought together a collection of faculty, students, administrators, community partners and representatives from our national sponsor and partner organizations committed to advancing civic learning and engagement through public higher education. Collectively, we considered how to advance civic pathways for student success—by identifying existing pathways and forging new ones. We also contemplated the role of social media in our work and the relationship between journalism and our democracy. Together, we celebrated another year of doing hard and important work by sharing stories and strategies for scaling up and focusing our efforts to drive civic learning and engagement into the core of higher education. We committed ourselves to continuing to work to equip all students with the civic knowledge, skills, experiences and dispositions they need to be successful throughout their careers and as citizens.

Highlights of our time together:

By The Numbers

493 participants, representing 156 different campuses and organizations

  • 67 ADP Campuses
  • 44 TDC Campuses
  • 125 Students
  • 8 Sponsors
  • 27 Partner & Friends Organizations

Social Media Use and #ADPTDC14


  • More than 2,500 mentions on both Facebook and Twitter
  • Overall 90% of those posts were positive in sentiment
  • The peak in social media conversation was on Thursday morning during the #Online plenary session
  • Discourse, Dialogue, and Deliberation was the most popular subtopic, accounting for 40% of all social media posts

Selected Tweets:

Program Overview

  • The full program agenda is available for download here (pdf).
  • New this year was a National Community College Organizing day for TDC and a Day of Service at Family Scholar House.
  • After being welcomed to Louisville by Mayor Greg Fischer, national participants considered ways to create and scale-up civic pathways for student success on their campuses and in their communities.

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  • During Friday morning’s “#Online: Democracy Gone Digital” plenary session, Suey Park and The Harry Potter Alliance’s Lauren Bird discussed civic participation and activism via social media.

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  • The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting’s Mark Shulte spoke about “Untold Stories of the Connected World: Journalism as an Instrument for Citizenship” and shared two thought-provoking examples of video journalism: Sean Gallagher’s The Toxic Price of Leather and Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden trek from Ethiopia to Patagonia.
  • Four awards for civic learning and engagement were presented during Friday’s awards lunch. Read more about the awards and their recipients here.

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  • In our closing plenary session, faculty and students from ADP and TDC campuses reflected with us about the national meeting and challenged us to further advance the roles of civic learning and engagement on our campuses over the course of the next year.

Comments from National Meeting attendees:

  • “This is THE place to network with civic engagement movers and shakers!”
  • “I was so impressed (again) with the depth and quality of the participation of our student members. They give me great hope for the future.”
  • “The tone of this conference is one of the best I have ever encountered.  The blend of faculty, campus leaders and engaged students is terrific.  There’s also a clear sense that everyone is there with common work in mind.”

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We hope to see you in New Orleans, Louisiana June 4-6, 2015, for the next ADP/TDC National Meeting where we will continue our important work of preparing informed, engaged citizens for our democracy.

PowerPoints and other handouts from the meeting are available through the meeting’s QuickMobile mobile app for the next year.

Finally, to see more pictures from the meeting, visit theTDC Facebook Page and AASCU homepage; please send any photos you took to so that we can upload them to Facebook.