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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.

Call for Nominations: 2017 Bernie Ronan Award

About the Award

At the 2013 national meeting, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) announced that, starting in 2014, we would select for special recognition a student-initiated or -directed project or program that exemplifies the democratic skills and capacities we desire of our students.  Bernie Ronan was heralded as a champion of democratic education and for his tireless work as an organizer, advocate, leader and eloquent spokesman for community college students. As a profound theorist of democratic culture, he wrote about the significance of democratic engagement in the life of student. To this end, he co-founded The Democracy Commitment, a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects and curricula aiming at engaging students in civic learning and democratic practice across the country. In 2016 we lost Bernie to his long battle with cancer, and to pay homage to his commitment to TDC and the development of community college students, TDC student scholarship award is now called the “Bernie Ronan Award,” as it will stand as a living testimony to this good and loyal friend.

The Award

The Bernie Ronan Award is presented annually to a student or a team of students from a TDC member institution for a student-initiated or student-directed project or program that exemplifies the democratic skills and capacities we desire of our students.  The award recipient(s)’ campus will receive a commemorative plaque to acknowledge the national recognition, and the award recipient will receive an award certificate and a check for $1,000.00 to be divided equally among the students identified by the campus coordinator as the effective participants in the project or program (If ten students were included in the nomination, each gets $100; if it is two students, each gets $500, etc.)  The award recipient(s) will be announced each year at The Democracy Commitment organizing session at the national meeting in June.

Criteria and Submission Process

Each TDC campus coordinator is invited to submit for consideration a student project or program from his or her institution that was aimed at addressing a significant political and/or social issue.  The project or program must demonstrate the democratic organizing skills of students and their leadership whereas the faculty/staff served mainly in an advisory or supporting role.

The nomination form must be filled out and submitted with all supporting materials and will include the following information:

  • Students’ names and contact information (email addresses and phone numbers).
  • Name of the project or program they were/are involved in.
  • A paragraph explaining the reason for the nomination, how the students’ project or program meets the required criteria, and why they should be selected.
  • You may attach up to four supporting documents, such as photos, news articles, video, etc. At least one supporting piece of documentation should be included for consideration.
Click HERE for a link to the Submission Form.

The nomination form should be sent electronically as a PDF along with all other nomination materials to Verdis Robinson, TDC National Director,, no later than Friday, April 28, 2017.  It is our desire to announce the winners of the award no later than May 1, 2017.  For questions, please contact TDC National Office at (202) 478-4656.  Click HERE to visit the webpage.

Please note: At least one student from the selected team should plan to attend the 2017 CLDE meeting; one student from the selected team will have the registration fees for the meeting waived as part of the award. 

#CLDE17 OPENING PLENARY | CivEd Talks and Our CLDE Theory of Change

The 2017 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement (CLDE) meeting organized by the American Democracy Project (ADP), the Democracy Project (TDC) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is continuing the conversation set forth during the #CLDE16 meeting  by introducing our emergent theory of change adapted from elements of the 2012  A Crucible Moment report. We encourage attendees to reflect on how to build campus cultures that enhance the following threads of our work: civic ethos, civic literacy and skill building, civic inquiry, civic action and civic agency.

This year’s conference will feature CivEd talks by three practitioner scholars making waves in the CLDE space. CivEd Talks are dynamic, short, and quick-paced presentations by members of the civic learning and democratic engagement community intended to inspire and challenge our collective imagination and thinking. Each of the three CivEd Talks presented will actively engage participants in stretching our thinking and motivating us to action as we return to our campuses and communities following the meeting.

Join us for an opening plenary session that asks you to envisioning the work of our CLDE movement in higher education and consider how you can help us move the needle on democratic engagement on campus, in your communities, and in our civil society. Each of the CivEd Talks presented will actively engage participants to challenge the status quo and to move toward change and to take action upon returning to their campuses.

The opening plenary session will take place at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, June 8, 2017.

Opening remarks by: Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

CivEd Talks:

Millennial Conservatism and Civic Engagement: No, Really, What Do Young Conservatives Want?

Young conservatives are here to stay, and in 2016, they voted in higher numbers — and exhibited higher engagement with candidates and issues — than they had in the past 20 years. But millennial conservatives aren’t social conservatives, and they aren’t necessarily fiscal conservatives, either. Jane Coaston will review the latest polling data and analytics to discuss what we’re hearing — and not hearing — from a demographic that will impact our politics, and our policies, for decades to come. Speaker:  Jane Coaston, political reporter, MTV News

Doing Civic Engagement through a Wicked Problems Lens: The Case for Passionate Impartiality

Amid perhaps the most polarized time in our nation’s history, the quality of public discourse has also reached historic lows. Civic engagement practitioners must find ways to build capacity in our communities and campuses to change the dialogue, work against the overly adversarial climate, and support the kind of conversation democracy requires. Martin Carcasson will make the case for taking a “wicked problems” perspective on tough issues to work toward improving the quality of public discourse and building the necessary civic skill sets and mindsets in our students.
Speaker: Martín Carcasson, Founder and Director, Center for Public Deliberation, Colorado State University

Citizen Power

Far too many Americans are illiterate in power – what it is, how it operates, why some individuals have more than others. As a result, those few who do understand power wield it disproportionately. How can you learn to activate your civic power to see problems through fresh eyes and bypass broken institutions, stale ideologies, and divisive politics? Eric Liu answered this question in his recent book You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen. In this talk about power and civic purpose, Eric Liu expounds the values, knowledge and skills of effective citizenship, and rejuvenates the meaning of being an active American. Speaker: Eric Liu, CEO, Citizen University

Eric Liu will be signing copies of his book You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen (2017) after the plenary and everyone who registers will get a free copy of it onsite at the CLDE meeting registration desk.



There will be plenty of additional engagement opportunities during this year’s meeting such as:

  • CLDE Orientation on Thursday, June 8th prior to the start of the Opening Plenary.  
  • Campus & Friends Showcase at CLDE17 on Thursday, June 8th! Learn more here. Sign up here.
  • Exploratory Session by Bus | Right to the City – Curtis Bay: Community Engagement through a Mobile App Sponsored by Towson University.
  • Walking Tour 1 | Baltimore West Side Sponsored by University of Maryland Baltimore County.
  • Walking Tour 2 | Baltimore “Untour” Sponsored by University of Maryland Baltimore County.

To learn more about the 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Meeting and to register by the May 1, 2017, early-bird deadline, visit the conference website.

Announcing the Special Issue of Diversity & Democracy on TDC/AAC&U’s Citizenship Under Siege Project

According to their website, “Diversity & Democracy supports higher education faculty and leaders as they design and implement programs that advance civic learning and democratic engagement, global learning, and engagement with diversity to prepare students for socially responsible action in today’s interdependent but unequal world.”  I am thrilled to announce that a special issue grounded in TDC’s Citizenship Under Siege Project in partnership with  The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is now posted online and available in print.

In an era of fractious differences about this topic when finding common ground seems elusive, TDC and AAC&U joined with seven community colleges to orchestrate a series of public forums each with accompanying programs and educational resources to bridge the rifts.   Organized under the common theme, Citizenship Under Siege, and supported by a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the events were framed through the powerful historic, ethical, and narrative lenses of the humanities.  This tapestry of forums underscored how the humanities are still “the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic—a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment, and the ideals we hold in common” (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2013, 9).

Featuring the efforts of project participants and educators engaged in similar work, this special issue of Diversity & Democracy illustrates the potential of the humanities to illuminate issues of identity and belonging.  We are indebted to the editor of Diversity & Democracy, Kathryn Campbell, for her commitment to producing an issue on this volatile topic.

With poignant and insightful lead articles by NEH’s Chair William “Bro” Adams, who also delivered an address at TDC’s Fifth Anniversary Celebration at The New York Times this past December, and the project’s director, Caryn McTighe Musil, who made the partnership and project possible, this issue is dominated by the creative and committed leaders at all seven community colleges in the project.  We are grateful to each of these authors who labored to produce the following enlightening articles:

From the Editor: Exploring Key Questions of Citizenship through the Humanities | By Kathryn Peltier Campbell, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Diversity and the Future of American Democracy | By William D. Adams, National Endowment for the Humanities

Clashes Over Citizenship: Lady Liberty, Under Construction or On the Run? | By Caryn McTighe Musil, Association of American Colleges and Universities

Bridges of Empathy: Crossing Cultural Divides through Personal Narrative and Performance | By Dona Cady and Matthew Olson—both of Middlesex Community College; and David Price, Santa Fe College

Affirming Interdependency: Interfaith Encounters through the Humanities | By Debra L. Schultz, Kingsborough Community College, City University of New York

Addressing Wicked Problems through Deliberative Dialogue | By John J. Theis, Lone Star College System, and Fagan Forhan, Mount Wachusett Community College 

Creating a Generation of Humanitarian Art Activists (Artivists) | By John Frazier, Miami Dade College

Gentle People | By Christian Carmelino and Sabrina Mendoza, Miami Dade College

Reconsidering Citizenship in the American Republic | By Michael Parrella and Jill Schennum—both of County College of Morris

After reading this issue of Diversity & Democracy, I am sure that you could agree that the project would not have produced a more timely or perceptive set of articles on a more pressing national issue with America’s community colleges leading the way.

For the full issue online, click HERE.  For information on ordering print copies, click HERE.


This issue of Diversity & Democracy was funded in part through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop in Washington, DC

AASCU’s American Democracy Project, and The Democracy Commitment in partnership with the National Issues Forum Institute are proud to announce a special professional development opportunity for area students, faculty, and staff interested in a moderator training for deliberative dialogues. We will be hosting a Deliberative Dialogue Moderator Training Workshop on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), 1307 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005.


  • Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, American Democracy Project National Manager, AASCU
  • Verdis LeVar Robinson, National Director, The Democracy Commitment


  • John R. Dedrick, Vice President and Program Director, Kettering Foundation
  • Kara Lindaman, Professor of Political Science/Public Administration, Winona State University (Minn.)
  • William Muse, President Emeritus, National Issues Forum Institute
  • John J. Theis, Director of the Center For Civic Engagement, Lone Star College (TX)

Democratic dialogue and deliberation build civic capacities and consciences to tackle the highly salient and most complex wicked problems facing communities today.  It rejects the expert model of technical expertise and specialization towards a truly democratic framework of accessibility and empowerment. The practice of dialogue and deliberation cultivates student abilities necessary to explore enduring and multidisciplinary questions and solve persistent public problems. Thus, the capacities necessary for productive and meaningful dialogue and deliberation—critical thinking, emphatic listening, creative problem solving, ethical leadership, collaboration, issue framing—are not only essential for sustaining a vibrant democracy, they are the best preparation for our students/citizens/graduates to be successful in the 21st century. This training will guarantee your eligibility to be a moderator at our 2017 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) meeting’s Dialogue and Deliberation Plenary Session: “ Safety and Justice: How Should Communities Reduce Violence?” on Friday, June 9, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Please join us for this free training by registering HERE.  The deadline has been extended to Wednesday, April 19, 2017.  Lunch will be provided.  Click Here for the tentative agenda.

For questions and more information, please contact Verdis L. Robinson at or (202) 476-4656.

Civic Competency and Engagement: Building an Impactful Assessment Process

While many institutions are seeking to develop civic competency and engagement (CCE) in their students, there are seemingly infinite permutations of learning outcomes, institutional actions, and assessment methodologies. Terms like civic engagement, civic responsibility, service learning, and community engagement (among a host of others) are used to mean varying things across institutions. Colleges and universities also employ a wide variety of programs, including civic learning courses, service learning programs, and community engagement efforts.

How do we ensure alignment among these outcomes and these activities?

What types of data can and should we gather to examine the effectiveness of our efforts? Perhaps most importantly, how do make sure that we use those data in order to demonstrate our effectiveness and guide continuous improvement?

This webinar will present best practices in defining and assessing civic learning and democratic engagement, as well as how assessment models can relate to the development of an institutional assessment plan.

Join us for this free, live, one-hour webinar featuring Ross Markle, Senior Research and Assessment Director at ETS and H. Anne Weiss, Director of Assessment, Indiana Campus Compact and Assessment Specialist in Community Engagement, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Welcoming Remarks:

Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, American Democracy Project National Manager, AASCU
Verdis L. Robinson, National Director, The Democracy Commitment


Ross Markle, Senior Research and Assessment Director at ETS

H. Anne Weiss, Director of Assessment, Indiana Campus Compact and Assessment Specialist in Community Engagement, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.


The webinar will be held Wednesday, March 22, 2017, from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Eastern.

If you are interested in participating on the webinar, you may register online by March 21st. The webinar link and dial-in instructions will be provided via email after you submit your online registration. Please note that the webinar will be recorded and available afterwards on our websites.

For registration assistance, please contact Jen Domagal-Goldman, or 202-478-7833.

Please share this webinar information with others on your campus that may benefit from participation.

Best wishes,

Jen & Verdis

Announcing the #CLDE17 Student Pre-Conference Workshop

This message is brought to you by our CLDE17 Student Interns. -Verdis Robinson, TDC National Director

It is incredibly important to engage in conversation with fellow peers, and by attending the #CLDE17 student symposium on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017, at the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement conference in Baltimore, students will gain experience in a space unique to the conference and to their academic career; a space and event by students and for students. Those who decide to take part in the intellectual talks will leave the symposium with tangible concepts and ideas on how to better their community, as well as broadening their perspectives. We hope that this symposium will bring in students with diverse political and personal opinions to discuss the important issues facing this generation.

Student leaders play a vital role in shaping the landscape of higher education based on the issues, concerns, and insights that come forth throughout the year.  As such, this space is provided for students to harness their skills and passions about the issues that matter most to them.  This student symposium will introduce students to #CLDESTUDS17 and provide a space for students to speak and be heard by their peers. This session will include multiple table discussions. We will be discussing the following topics that are currently receiving a lot of attention: racial tensions, political apathy, and community activism. These topics will be discussed in small groups, and then brought to the large group to have further discussion. In the end, all students will be able to receive a handout of the ideas that were proposed during the symposium. It will also engage attendees in conversation on mobilizing and empowering individuals on campus and in the community, creating diverse partnerships, gaining the support of your faculty and administrators, and building support networks in order to enhance the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement initiatives that already exist at your institution or to create new opportunities.

It is our hope that attendees will gain a new perspective, and learn how to engage in civic discussions with others who may hold opposing viewpoints. Students will learn in-depth information about local government and how they can influence their local leaders through actions such as lobbying and speaking during a public meeting. It is vital for students to attend this symposium because they will learn how best to take the skills they learn throughout the conference and apply it to their experiences in their communities and universities. As Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local,” so with this symposium we will aid students in facilitating change in their local spaces.

We, interns, are incredibly excited to have the opportunity to engage our peers but also learn with them. We know that they will bring a lot of knowledge to the table, and cannot wait for in-depth discussions. As we sit and plan the symposium, we cannot contain our excitement to meet every fellow student who has the same enthusiasm to participate in such important conversations. You are welcomed to the table!

CLDE17 Student Interns:
Amber Austin, Tarrant County College (Texas)
Tyler Ferrari, Chapman University (Calif.)
Christin Melecio, Winona State University (Minn.)

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
1 p.m. – 4 p.m. EST
Student Pre-Conference Workshop
For undergraduate students only
Organized by the 2017 CLDE Student InternsAmber Austin, student, Tarrant County College (Texas); Tyler Ferrari, student, Chapman University (Calif.); and Christina Melecio, student, Winona State University (Minn.)

This workshop will introduce students to #CLDEStuds17 that will provide a space to discuss issues that focus on being an active participant in the local and national communities, and will give students the tools to be effective activists in their communities. These open discussions will be held in large and small groups to effectively dissect the topics being discussed. To thoroughly accomplish our goals at the conference we hope that our peers come with open minds, and thoughtful ideas to contribute to discussions not only at this conference but at home with their peers. There will be additional information closer to the conference for those who register. We hope to engage our attendees with new, and exciting, information that can further reach students across the nation, and actively enhance the Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement initiatives.


Share your CLDE campus curricular and co-curricular programming!

Are you an ADP/TDC/NASPA Lead partner organization?

Do you want to promote the civic engagement work of your campus or organization?

Consider hosting a table at the Campus & Friends Showcase at the 2017 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting (#CLDE17) in Baltimore, Md.

Thursday, June 8th 2017
5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (during the opening reception)

Join us for the ever-popular Campus & Friends Showcase—a wonderful opportunity to share and celebrate your work and help others learn how to infused civic learning and engagement on their own campuses. There is no cost to participate. Simply complete this registration form, available here, no later than Monday, May 1. Spots are limited; therefore, we encourage you to sign up soon.

The Campus and Friends Showcase will take place on Thursday, June 8th from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. during the opening reception. The Showcase is designed as an exhibit area with tables available for presenters. People love to see what other campuses are doing with their ADP, TDC and NASPA Lead programming and the Showcase also serves as an important networking opportunity for participants to connect with national leaders and organizations in the civic engagement movement.

It is important to note that the Campus & Friends Showcase is different than the poster sessions, which were solicited during the Call for Proposals. The poster session is designed to be research-oriented, and the Showcase is set up as an exhibit to provide opportunities for information, networking, and collaboration.

More information about the purpose and structure of the Showcase, registration, materials you should provide, and set-up details can be found on the Campus and Friends Flyer 2017. If you have any questions, please email Parth Thakkar, civic engagement intern, at or call him at 202.478.4671.

If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to register for the 2017 Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement Meeting, June 7-10, 2017. To register for the meeting visit our website.

Making Sense of the Campus Democratic Engagement Initiatives- Free Webinar by the ALL IN Challenge

ALL IN Challenge Webinar Series:


Tuesday, February 28  |  2 PM EST  |  60 minutes
Register Now


You may have asked yourself if your campus is eligible to join the American Democracy Project or The Democracy Commitment. Or perhaps you’ve wondered whether you can apply for the Voter Friendly Campus Designation or join the ALL IN Challenge. These are good questions.

The higher education democratic engagement ecosystem is filled with exceptional programs. But so many programs can be overwhelming for campuses to navigate and fully understand. If you’ve been scratching your head, we hope you’ll join us for a presentation designed to end the confusion.

Participants will hear from representatives from AASCU, Campus Compact, Civic Nation, Fair Elections Legal Network, NASPA, The Democracy Commitment and Young Invincibles about their programs to increase student voting and advance civic learning on college campuses. Panelists will discuss the goals of each program, and how they differ from and build upon each other’s work. Campuses will get a clear understanding of which programs are the right fit for their campus and how to get involved with each.

Clarissa Unger, Young Invincibles & the Students Learn Students Vote Coalition

Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, AASCU’s American Democracy Project
Catherine Fish, Civic Nation’s ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge
Maggie Grove, Campus Compact
Debi Lombardi, Fair Election Legal Network’s Campus Vote Project
Stephanie Reynolds, NASPA’s Lead Initiative
Verdis LeVar Robinson, The Democracy Commitment

For questions or additional information please contact

2017 Student Summit on Social Mobility

Join us for our second  ADP/TDC Economic Inequality Initiative Student Summit on Social Mobility!

When: Saturday March 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM -to- Sunday March 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM ET

Where:  Keene State College, Main St. Keene, NH 03435


This event, coordinated by students, staff, and faculty from Keene State College and Mount Wachusett Community College, will provide opportunities for students across the Northeast region to participate in a Student Policy Summit, hear expert perspectives on social outcomes of economic inequality from multiple disciplines, and network with their peers.

Over two days, summit participants will learn and deliberate about social mobility – how children, adolescents, and young adults can get on track to access economic independence and whether interventions during childhood can influence outcomes in adulthood. Participants will ask “what if” questions about factors that promote or impede success at different life stages and will also examine the economic value of graduating high school and pursuing higher education.

Institutions may register up to 20 students each. All undergraduate students must be registered with an advisor from their institution. Requests for additional students may be made by contacting the event coordinators at 978-630-9435. A registration fee of $80/participant will be due before the event. Bills will be mailed after registration. More information here.

Register Now!


College of the Canyons Awarded a BTtoP Campus Dialogue Grant

Congratulations to College of Canyons, a member institution of The Democracy Commitment who has received one of the 31 Campus Dialogue Grants for Realizing Higher Education’s Greater Purposes from Bringing Theory to Practice!

According to the BTtoP website, the designs of the proposed dialogues and the rosters of intended dialogue participants reflect each institution’s unique campus culture and attentiveness to current issues.  Ultimately these projects will facilitate the greater purposes of higher education: learning and discovery, well-being, civic engagement, and preparation for living meaningfully in the world.

Under the 2017-2018 RFP, campus dialogue grants of up to $5,000 for a single institution were offered to provide support for one-year projects based around thematically integrated gatherings or dialogues involving a core group of diverse campus constituents. The 31 awarded grants, chosen from a meritorious group of over 230 proposals, will provide support for one-year projects (calendar year 2017) based around a set of thematically integrated gatherings or “dialogues” involving a core group of diverse campus constituents. Including required matching funds, the dedicated amount for these projects totals over $450,000. BTtoP’s support for these projects was made possible through the Endeavor Foundation of New York City.  BTtoP’s hope is that these dialogues will lead to a change in the narrative around higher education from one that views a college education primarily as a pathway to a better job to one that views higher education as a pathway to a better life.

For their formal grant reporting requirement, College of the Canyons will be invited and expected to participate as an author on a campus dialogue grant WordPress site: Through the WordPress site, BTtoP hopes to encourage a forum for building a transparent and collaborative community of practice, as well as foster relationships among grantees.

Congratulations, College of the Canyons!!  TDC will continue to seek out grant opportunities and support the efforts of all of our community colleges, now more than ever.

To learn more, visit