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TDC Newsroom

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.

Community College Workshop at the Kettering Foundation

Kettering Nov '13
From left to right: Kurt Hoffman, Carrie Kisker, Jolanda Westerhof, Bernie Ronan, Cynthia Kaufman, Lena Jones, Derek Barker, Jo Anne Zarowny, Lavita McMath Turner, John Theis, Amabella Lambinicio, Jennifer Mair, Liza Strahley, Clifford Harbour. [Claire Snyder-Hall; in attendance, not in picture]
 The Kettering Foundation, a TDC official partner, hosted a week-long conference for higher education research at their headquarters in Dayton, OH. The conference included a two-day workshop for Community Colleges. A selected group of TDC member institution coordinators, civic engagement researchers, and educators were in attendance. The workshop highlighted the different civic engagement research and outreach occurring across the country.

Listed below are the background reading materials provided for the workshop:

–          Carrie Kisker and Bernie Ronan, TDC Interim Report 2013.

–          John J. Theis, “Civic Engagement and the Community College,” Interim Report 2013.

–          Martin Carcasson, “Rethinking Civic Engagement on Campus,” Kettering report 2013.

–          Claire Snyder, Faculty Public Happiness report 2013.

–          Katy Harriger, “Public Scholarship and Faculty Role Conflict.”

–          Alexandra Robinson, “Living Democracy: From Service Learning to Political Engagement.” Connections 2012.

In addition, for a look at the workshop’s agenda click here.

Community Days Focus on Climate Change and Public

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By: Omairys Rodriguez
College Assistant, Communications
Guttman Community College

The fall semester’s Community Days focused on climate change as a central theme. On October 22, six concurrent workshops provided students opportunities to participate in interactive sessions and to meet experts and advocates to learn about a broad range of topics, including transportation options, recycling and the science behind climate change. Tara DePorte, Founder and Executive Director of the Human Impacts Institute in New York, gave the keynote talk about climate change.

The Community Day of Service was held on October 23. Guttman students, joined by college staff, “learned by doing” through volunteer work with a variety of community partners in non-profit, cultural and advocacy organizations. The service sites included the Lower East Side Ecology Center, Rebuild Staten Island and Rational Urban Mobility. New York Cares, the largest local volunteer organization in New York City, conducted helpful sessions to orient students about community service and civic engagement before their day of service. Students documented their learning over the course of the Community Days and afterwards through reflection using photography and social media.

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Students clean up the gardens at the Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan on October 23.

The Fall Community Days experience is part of the required City Seminar course and provides practical learning and community-based activities around topics connected to New York City. Group activities facilitate broad discussion and engage students to take action to improve the community. Guttman Community Days are an important dimension of the community-based learning that is the foundation for the college’s model of teaching and learning in which the city becomes an extension of the classroom. During the spring 2012 semester, the Community Days focused on the City Seminar II theme of immigration.

“Thanks to our community partners in dozens of non-profits across the boroughs, our first-year students get to build on their curricular knowledge and skills as they make a positive impact on the environment,” noted Claire King, faculty member at Guttman.

Check out more photos of Community Days 2013.

Welcome to TDC Northwest Kansas Technical College!

Northwest Kansas Technical College provides career and technical education through progressive technology and facilities. Their efforts in cutting-edge technology education and training is also well recognized across the country. Apple Corp. gave recognition to the college for the second year in a row in 2012 for its iPad Mobile Learning Initiative. In addition, the college has fostered “going green” in different programs such as in auto mechanics and carpentry. From all of us at TDC National, welcome Northwest Kansas Technical College!

Miami Dade College “Is Powering through Economic Turmoil”

Miami Dade College, a TDC member institute, received recognition from The Presidency (The American Council on Education’s Magazine for Higher Education) after welcoming its 2 millionth admitted student, a rare feat for any college across the country. The article was written by the college’s president Eduardo J. Padrón.

Miami Dade opened its doors to students only 53 years ago. Today it boasts one of the largest student populations in the country. The college points out that being a public community college they provide a non-exclusive education that has produced thousands of successful alumni. Through this successful alumni network and community the college accumulated a very substantial endowment of $336.2 million, the largest endowment of any community college in the nation.

This accomplishment came to much hard work in alumni relations. Through Miami Dade’s 2000 campaign “Everywhere You Turn: Successful Alumni”, alums, the immediate community, and many national academic foundations took notice of the amazing graduates the college has produced. The continuous efforts of this campaign have garnered the participation of nearly 4,000 successful alumni. The campaign truly changed the perception of what a Miami Dade College education provides.

During the past few years of economic turmoil across the country Miami Dade stands out against this adversity and thrives to continue its service to its current and prospective students. It’s an uphill battle for community colleges all over the country but Miami Dade recognizes that if there’s a will there’s a way. On top of reaching out to alumni and their community the college also extended their aims to philanthropic partnerships and government grants, which helped sustain and expand the academic opportunities for this community college. For Miami Dade rallying its alumni and community members helps for a continuous excellent education for the economically challenged.

Article by the President of Miami Dade Community College, Eduardo J. Padrón link:

Students Get Firsthand Look at City Budget Process

Guttman CC

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By: Bruce Lyons
Associate Director of Communications
Guttman Community College
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New York City Council Member Brad Lander (District 39, Brooklyn) discusses the participatory budget process with Guttman students.

On October 22 students from Dr. Larian Angelo’s Fall I class, The Politics of New York City, were given a firsthand opportunity to learn the workings of the city’s budgeting process by visiting the City Council Finance Division. Jeff Rodus, First Deputy Director, and John Russell, Senior Financial Analyst, provided an overview of the capital budget process, explained how the city’s long-term projects are funded by bonds and reviewed how the Finance Division supports city council members with their capital spending projects. They also advised students about the best educational paths to public service careers and the value of internships to securing jobs.

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John Russell, Senior Financial Analyst, and Jeff Rodus, First Deputy Director of the City Council Finance Division, explain the capital budget to Guttman students

Students also met with City Council Member Brad Lander from District 39 in Brooklyn, who is active in participatory budgeting within his district. He explained how a list of capital needs is created, reviewed and ultimately voted on in his district for a variety of projects, such as new schools and transportation improvements. Council Member Lander emphasized how participatory budgeting engages residents in the budget process and provides a shared sense of stewardship for community-based projects.

Students may volunteer as Budget Delegates in those Council districts that practice participatory budgeting to gain experience in the budgeting process. At the conclusion of these meetings, Dr. Angelo, who formally served as Director of the New York City Council Finance Division, noted to students that “budgets are all about choices.”

View photo set on Flickr:

Make A Difference Day @ Sinclair Community College

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By: David Bodary
Service Learning Coordinator
Sinclair Community College

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Sinclair students and staff sorting books as part of Join Hands Miami Valley.

Students and faculty Sinclair Community College volunteered time on October 25th and 26th in support of their community as part of the national Make A Difference Day. Working in conjunction with Join Hands Miami Valley members of the Sinclair family worked to address issues of literacy, poverty and community organized by the Greater Dayton United Way.

Sinclair CC - MADD-13-Dawayne
Sinclair students and staff enjoying a Halloween Party with Boys and Girls Club members.

More than 70 students and staff volunteered over two days to sort books for Project Read, throw a Halloween Party for the Boys and Girls Club of Dayton, paint office space for the Five Rivers MetroParks, guide visitors through an “enchanted forest” at Aullwood Farm and Garden and organize donations for Compassion 1st.

For additional details contact David Bodary through the Service Learning Office at Sinclair Community College.

Does your school participate in Make A Difference Day?

Local farmers and Growers

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By: Tamarra Coleman-Hill
Faculty Coordinator of The Democracy Commitment
Moraine Valley Community College
Moraine Valley CC - Food Panel Blog 1
Panelists Chris Voss and Beth Osmund take questions from the audience

Moraine Valley Community College hosted a panel presentation on Wednesday October 23rd to discuss the importance of local and sustainable food systems. Local famers Beth Osmund from Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm in Ottawa, Illinois and Chris Voss of Angelic Organics Farm in Caledonia, Illinois spoke to our college community about their work, their lives and the “politics of food.”

Moraine Valley CC - Sustainability 2There were two presentations with students, faculty and staff participating in each session. Following the panelists presentation was a Q&A session for participants to continue the discussion. Participants were able to hear about the work of small farmers from a first-hand perspective. The farmers talked about their life transitions from the corporate world back to the farm and how that change has been more fulfilling than their high salaried corporate positions.


Moraine Valley CC - Food Panel Blog 2
Farmer Beth Osmund is reading a quote from food writer and environmentalist Michael Pollan

Farmer Beth Osmund referred participants to the Farm Safety and Modernization Act, which is open for public comment, and they were encouraged to comment in support of local, small farms. Overall, it was a successful event with several faculty members bringing their classes and linking assignments to food systems and sustainability. One of the questions participants were asked to consider was: What is the one small change or choice you can make regarding food that will make a large impact in aggregate?

APPLY TODAY – Teaching Community Organizing Boot Camp

Attention all community college faculty committed to teaching for change (and those that know them) –

Do you want your students to organize for social change? 

Do you want to learn techniques to prepare students to be leaders in their communities? 

Do you want to be a part of a larger, supportive network of educators teaching for change? 

Then this Boot Camp is for YOU!

New Organizing Institute’s Millennial Project, in collaboration with the Leading Change Network Teaching Initiative and made possible by the Rappaport Family Foundation, are offering a 4-day, intensive training targeted at building a cohort of educators who teach practice-based organizing and leadership courses and workshops in community colleges throughout the U.S.

Teaching Community Organizing Boot Camp

for Community College Faculty

January 9-12, 2014

Orange Springs, FL

Only 20 spots are available for this all travel expenses paid, 4-day learning adventure – an opportunity worth $2,000. Be a part of the first class of this new NOI Boot Camp!

Apply today at:


My name is Hope Wood, and a decade ago, I was an educator struggling to teach for social change in my public school classroom, feeling myself sink into the unsettling depths of not enough space, time, energy, and resources.

Luckily, I was reenergized by a community organizer who engaged me and others at my school in developing the leadership we were waiting for – IN OURSELVES! He showed us the power and potential we each possessed, leadership connected to the self and community! We built relationships and strategies together.  We stood up to take action for the conditions we so badly needed to educate our students.  And we won – more streetlights added in front of the school, more funded parent-teacher learning academies, more transition support for our graduating classes.  We learned together.  Moreover, it was not theoretical or abstract. This was a new kind of learning through action. Ultimately, we discovered that indeed every-day people like ourselves could create change, and in the process, I got the organizing bug!

In 2007, I learned that we could do this on a national level and I fell in love with organizing even more deeply.  Through my work as a volunteer leader and then as a staffer during the first Obama campaign, I was introduced to the organizing framework that would continue to change my life in two big ways – 1.The story and relational focus helped me find my voice, establishing my full identity as an out lesbian of mixed race, and it gave me courage to use this voice politically, and 2. I discovered a simple and effective language and pedagogy that would allow me to share the practice of organizing to others seeking to make similar change.

This framework created by the iconic organizer and Harvard professor Marshall Ganz, was developed out of his organizing work with the United Farm Workers and in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 during the civil rights movement, and in several electoral campaigns since.

Many people are now teaching and utilizing this framework to strengthen the social justice movement through many issue campaigns across the country and abroad.  From the Dreamers using their stories strategically to open hearts and minds and beginning to shift U.S. immigration policy, to community members in a refuge camp town in East Amman, Jordan successfully organizing the people in their poverty-stricken community to make measurable cultural change in behaviors associated with literacy and child abuse.

Click here now to apply for this opportunity to join other change-minded people in learning this community organizing framework and developing a community of practice in the process.  

Click here for more information about the training objectives and outcomes.


Through this organizing practice and the work of our Leading Change Network members using it on the ground throughout the world, we are creating real, measurable change and leadership opportunities that develop community and build interdependent power to shift the inequities that keep people from living lives of dignity and respect.  And in the process, we are shifting the way the world works – creating more cultures of commitment than control in social change work, and more spaces where we use conflict as a healthy way to find solutions than as something that divides and destroys our efforts towards shared goals.

But there is more work to do! And luckily, there are plenty more students to engage in this life changing, learning organizing experience. But currently, from what we’ve been able to find, it appears that this type of hands-on, developing leadership through reflective organizing action course is only being offered through Harvard and a small handful of other academic institutions, few of which are community colleges. Few of which are located in the very communities faced by the vast social inequalities and other injustices that are plaguing our country and world.

But you can make that different, you can cause that change – right from your own classroom.  Join us at Teaching Community Organizing Boot Camp 2014 and let’s get started together!

Be sure to apply before the deadline – midnight on November 11, 2013 at

Please feel free to reach out to me at with any questions about our Teaching Organizing Boot Camp 2014, the Millennial Project or the Leading Change Teaching Initiative.  I look forward to connecting with you!

In beloved community,



p.s. Here are some resources for more background information:

NOI’s Millennial Project 2014 Program

Interview with Marshall Ganz on PBS’s Moyers & Company

Leading Change Network

Rappaport Family Foundation – Spark Initiative

Hope Wood | Organizing Trainings Manager & Millennial Project Director

New Organizing Institute | Cell: 323-428-7584 | Skype: hopewood07


Campus Sustainability Day 2013

Campus Sustainability Day 2013

TODAY is Campus Sustainability Day and many TDC member institutes are celebrating with a bang! This year’s theme, according to, is “Climate Adaptation: Resilient Campuses & Communities.”  In Florida, Miami Dade College along with its Earth Ethics Institute (EEI) and Kendall Campus Sustainability Committee is holding a day long annual gathering with community partners and student orgs presenting on sustainability initiatives. Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois is hosting a panel on “The Politics of Food” as a part of its weeklong series of events on sustainability. While Guttman Community College in New York City is holding the second day of its two day Community Day that focuses on climate change as a central theme. Another stellar TDC member that’s taking sustainability seriously is Santa Monica College in southern California. They are also hosting a weeklong gathering that involves webinars, panels, discussions, and campus clean-ups.

Waste Management is also giving away brochures on a sustainable campus model called “In Pursuit of Zero Waste” for any and all campuses ready to take on the path to sustainability.

For more information on participating TDC colleges go to the events calendar.




FOOD: Growing through Dialogue

A TDC member institution, Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC) is hosting an event on “The Politics of Food” and it aims to create a continuous dialogue on the growing need for local, sustainable food and the politics behind that need. As the entire country continues to struggle with the issue of child malnutrition and food deserts, MVCC is taking a step toward creating solutions simply by starting a conversation. Among the list of discussion questions MVCC is hoping to tackle during the event are:


“Is food a right or a privilege?”

“Consider the produce you like to eat. Are these food crops that are typically seen [locally]?”

“Consider the phrase ‘the democratization of food.’ What does this phrase mean to you?”

“Do you believe there are enough resources to feed every person on the planet? Why or why not?”

[For the complete list click here]


Students are asked to think about the food distribution system in the US critically. More so, they are asked to think about their own households and their daily food intake. Food is rarely a topic of critical thinking and discussion; eating what is available is simply a part of life, or even survival, especially if food choices are not plentiful. According to the EPA of the 35 million tons of foodwaste generated by the US in 2011, 96 percent of that was thrown into landfills. How much of that food could’ve been consumed by the millions of hungry people? When 14.9 percent of US households are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from. The USDA also points out that the problem with malnutrition and food desserts doesn’t rely on access to all or any food, but access to healthy and nutritious food. In addition, the USDA reported in 2009 that there are 2.3 million people in the US who live more than a mile from a grocery and do not own a car. That’s 2.2% of the country’s population who are likely to result in purchasing whatever food is easily available even if it’s unhealthy.

There are existing programs that help educate communities from entire towns to colleges such as, the Cooperative Extension System through the USDA. They are staffed by local produce experts in regions across the U.S. who provide research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and as well as communities of all sizes. There is also The People’s Garden grant program, which provides monetary support to organizations from town districts to colleges in order to initiate local sustainable gardens. Another TDC member institution, Kingsborough Community College established its year-round high-yielding urban farm in 2011 and offers trainings for students and faculty. The KCC farm works in conjuncture with classes across all disciplines to incorporate the farm into their curriculum (this initiative is not a part of The People’s Garden).

Nationwide the attention on food and the policies that drive its production and distribution is growing. Local and national organizations that focus on food and food policy are growing in numbers. Recently a documentary was released called, A Place at the Table. All this and more demonstrates that the silent call to action by the significant percentage of hungry people in the U.S. is slowly being addressed.

             How has your community college taken on the topic of food and food production?