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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.

Lone Star College, Kingwood is taking voting registration seriously!

Engage_Votereg_emailLone Star College, Kingwood is holding voting registration for three Tuesdays September 3 from 12-2pm in the Student Conference Center (SCC), September 17 10am – 1:30pm at the SCC, and September 24 10am – 12pm at their Library Patio.

Check out their speaker series of the Houston Mayoral candidates. Click on their names to view events detail.

Incumbent Annise Parker

Republican Candidate Eric Dick

Democratic Candidate Ben Hall

SGA: Training Ground for Civil Servants of Tomorrow


When Student Government Association Secretary Justin Wideman enrolled at Northwest Vista College in fall 2007, he selected a major out of appreciation of the kindness he saw as a child.

As a young boy, Wideman suffered from severe asthma and acid reflux.

According to about half the children with severe asthma also have gastroesophageal reflux disease.

The symptoms of acid reflux were causing his asthma symptoms to worsen. Wideman would need surgery to prevent severe acid reflux.

At 8 years old, Wideman under went a procedure known as nissen fundoplication, a procedure where surgeons take the upper part of the stomach and wrap it around the lower end of the esophagus to support the closing function of the lower esophageal sphincter.

He spent the following month in the hospital recovering, and it was there he witnessed kindness and care from his nurses.

When Wideman declared his major, it was no wonder he chose nursing.

“I had nurses that were really good,” Wideman said. “My intention was to go into nursing and be that nurse that loved doing what they did.”

Wideman transferred from Northwest Vista in fall 2010 to enroll at this college.

He wanted to be more active and more involved in campus clubs.

When he joined the Gay, Ally, and Lesbian Association and the Catholic Student Association, he began to network and get to know people in different organizations.

Soon after, GALA President Rene Orozco recommended Wideman as a possible Student Government Association secretary to SGA President Jacob Wong.

“I needed people that were motivated,” Wong said.

So when Wideman appeared sporting a pink mohawk during his first meeting in the summer, all Wong could say was, “OK.”

“It turned out that anything I gave him or any idea, we would start brainstorming and we created an open communication. Everything started rolling,” Wong said.

“This person was just as determined as I was to put the time and work in for SGA. I was really impressed.”

Wong appointed Wideman as secretary for fall 2012.

After his first SGA meeting, Wideman found himself in new territory.

He was excited about this new position within student government and the opportunities his new position offered him.

“It allowed me to represent students who have similar issues and concerns as I do,” Wideman said.

This position allowed him to see that nursing might not be the best fit for him.

He started looking seriously at a career in politics and public service.

Wideman also credits Professor Phillip Rogers’ government and international relations courses for his increased interest in politics.

“Dr. Rogers’ classes are so informative and they left a great impression on me,” Wideman said.

The pieces started to come together for Wideman.

His admiration for the nursing profession was still in his heart but now he wanted to help in a different way.

He ultimately wanted to be a public servant and changed his major to political science.

Wideman has been accepted to the University of Texas-San Antonio, where he will work toward earning a bachelor’s degree in public administration.

After he graduates, Wideman expects to do big things. He wants to continue his education by earning a master’s degree.

Wideman said he would like to become a city manager and work his way up through the ranks to the much loftier goal of U.S. President.

Though candidates must be at least 35 years old to serve as president, “I have plenty of time to gain the knowledge needed,” the 24 year old joked.

If the executive branch is not in the cards for Wideman, he is OK with serving in Congress.

Wideman said he does not want to be in public office for the sole purpose of having power, but rather “to be a representative who actually represents the voice of the people.”

Wideman said the shared governance model that President Robert Zeigler promotes between college administration and SGA was a great look at how democracy can work.

“It has been a great experience to get in a room with people with different views,” he said. “Administration and students coming together to think about how new policy might help students.”

During Pepsi with the President, SGA presents information to Zeigler; Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of academics and student engagement; and David Mrizek, vice president of college services.

The majority of information they present to the executive team reflects student opinion.

For now, Wideman represents the students of this college and is proud of that voice.

One initiative that Wideman is proud to discuss is the quick action SGA took to collect student input on the single textbook issue.

“In one week, we were able to get 366 surveys together. We were able to draft, write, rewrite and rewrite again our speech to district,” Wideman said.

“We wanted to focus on the key issue in those surveys … That district was not informing students of changes.”

Wideman encourages students to “get involved and stay active.”

“If you want to have your voice heard then speak up with your SGA,” he said.

SGA’s goal has always been to give students of this college a voice, he said.

As spring semester winds down, Wideman has begun to turn his attention to the legacy he leaves behind. He starts his first semester at UTSA this fall.

What path would Wideman pave for the organization that encouraged him to get involved and helped to mold a future legislator.

Wideman believes that he will be leaving behind a stronger SGA and a student body that has become more involved and aware of college issues.

Before leaving office, he also wanted to bridge the gap between outgoing SGA members and new members.

Wideman suggested new SGA members serve over the summer with current SGA members to keep continuity.

SGA’s constitution was amended in March to reflect these changes.

This will allow new members to work with members with more experience, he said.

Wideman wants SGA to be successful long after he leaves this college.

From a nursing degree to presidential hopeful, Wideman has big dreams and is grateful to this college for the experiences and guidance.

For Wideman, he said it doesn’t matter if he works in the oval office or just the floor, he wants to make change.

“Why don’t I be that change I want to see.”

For information on SGA, call 210-486-0133.


#ADPTDC13: Students-Only Activities in Denver

Attention all TDC Students!

If you’re not already stoked about #ADPTDC13 (and we have already given you five reasons you should be), we wanted to let you know about one more thing: we’ve assembled some activities just for you!

Read below to find out more about two students-only sessions and a PAR-TAY!

FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2013

3:45 p.m. – 5 p.m.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, But a Video is Worth a Thousand Stories: A Two-Day Film Workshop (students only; RSVP required)
Colorado Ballroom, Salon B
The filmmaker of The Democracy Commitment’s newest initiative, Civic Chronicles, is holding a two-day workshop on telling stories of civic engagement through the medium of film. The workshop will be interactive, engaging, fun and creative. Students and participants will leave with a basic knowledge of film theory, cinematography, editing and the art of storytelling. They will also get to apply what they have learned by creating a short film in a variety of styles and genres to their choice. Participants need to bring along their own DSLRs, handheld cameras, film equipment, and/or smart phones.

Facilitator: Marlo Alvarado C., Filmmaker

If you are a student from an ADP/TDC member institution that is interested in attending this workshop and would like to reserve your spot, email Marlo at Please only RSVP if you can attend both workshop sessions. This workshop will be capped at 20 participants.

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
ADP/TDC Student Mixer (students only)
Denver Ballroom, Suites III/IV

The American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment recognize that this year’s annual meeting will host the biggest cohort of students ever in attendance, and we want to celebrate that fact—plus give you the chance to meet your peers from across the country, swap ideas and contact information, and have a little fun on a Friday night. After attending the ADP National Student Advisory Council Info Session, stick around for food, fellowship and fun!  Mocktails and giant bean bag chairs anyone?


10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, But a Video is Worth a Thousand Stories: A Two-Day Film Workshop
(continued from Friday)
Molly Brown

The filmmaker of The Democracy Commitment’s newest initiative, Civic Chronicles, is holding a two-day workshop on telling stories of civic engagement through the medium of film. The workshop will be interactive, engaging, fun and creative. Students and participants will leave with a basic knowledge of film theory, cinematography, editing and the art of storytelling. They will also get to apply what they have learned by creating a short film in a variety of styles and genres to their choice. Participants need to bring along their own DSLRs, handheld cameras, film equipment, and/or smart phones.

Facilitator: Marlo Alvarado C., Filmmaker

Also, keep in mind, even though it will not be a students-only event, the closing reception on Saturday is going to be a seriously good time—we’ve rented space at The Tavern Downtown in the LoDo (Lower Downtown) district of Denver. There will be a photo booth (complete with props) and a DJ and dance floor, as well as delicious food and drinks. The Tavern is not only right across from the baseball field but has made multiple top-ten lists for its great rooftop.

We are looking forward to painting Denver red, white and blue next week and wish you all a happy end of the academic year and safe travels!

The Plenaries: Reason #2 You Should Come to #ADPTDC13

By Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, National Manager, ADP

Yet another reason to attend the 2013 ADP/TDC National Meeting in Denver from June 6-8: our incredible array of plenary (keynote) speakers! We’re excited to welcome to our stage Denise Fairchild of Emerald Cities Collaborative; CIRCLE’s Peter Levine; four incredible students: Bianca Brown, Justin Machelski, Quinta Tangoh, and Rachel Wintz (all winners of our student video contest); and David Scobey of The New School for Public Engagement. We know that these speakers are certain to educate and entertain meeting attendees and to encourage us to ponder sets of thought-provoking questions as we consider our plans to act in the world as informed, engaged citizens and to help prepare others to do the same.

The Plenaries:

Thursday, June 6, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Opening Plenary: Empowering Millennials to Create Change

FairchildThis is the both the best of times and the worst of times. The worst is the unprecedented level of global change and the uncertainty and insecurity that come with change.  Our environment, our economy, our civil society are in a tailspin. The tools for mediating these new and often turbulent terrains are evolving slower than the change itself. The good news is that a new generation of idealists – the Millennials – are coming of age to navigate these murky waters. But this is only if we effectively prepare them for this brave new world. We cannot use old methods for addressing this new world; we need to redesign our educational system for major social and economic transformation. Millennials need skills to tackle tomorrow’s key challenges, including sustainability, civility and global citizenship, and above all, ambiguity.  These challenges are best addressed through experiential learning focused less on service-learning (learning how to do what is already being done) and more on innovating social change experiences for Millennials, so that they may deliver in these new times.
Presenter: Denise Fairchild, President & CEO, Emerald Cities Collaborative

Friday, June 7, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Plenary Session:  A Defense of Higher Education and its Civic Mission
The liberal arts and the civic mission of higher education are under attack in this time of economic crisis and political polarization. In several states, policies are pending to raise tuition for majors that do not lead directly to jobs. We should not be offended by this kind of critique. We charge a lot of money for tuition, and citizens are entitled to ask what we produce for it. But we can proudly and forthrightly make the case for the civic mission of the higher education. The purpose of the liberal arts is to prepare people for responsible citizenship, and the best forms of civic engagement are intellectually challenging; they are the liberal arts in action. Research shows that civic education at the college level makes people into better workers. And engaged universities address many serious public problems, including unemployment, that matter to citizens and policymakers.
Presenter: Peter Levine, Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs and Director of CIRCLE, Tisch College/CIRCLE, Tufts University

Saturday, June 8, 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Plenary Session:  ADP/TDC Student Panel
Student Panel
Meet the winners of the ADP/TDC Student Video contest and hear them reflect about their own civic learning and engagement as well as suggest how our campuses can better foster learning environments that encourage all students to be the informed, engaged citizens our communities need.
Presenters: Bianca Brown, Western Kentucky University; Justin Machelski, Delta College (Mich.); Quinta Tangoh, Cuyahoga Community College (Ohio); and Rachel Wintz, University of Alaska Anchorage

Saturday, June 8, 4:15 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closing Plenary:  Post-Traditional Undergraduates and the Copernican Moment: New Models of Engaged Learning for the New Majority Student
ScobeyIt has become a commonplace in our current educational discussions that the higher education sector in the U.S. is living a moment of dramatic disruption and change. One key aspect of this new “Copernican moment” is the emergence of non-traditional adult students fitting education into complex lives of work, community and family — as the new majority of undergraduates. How do we offer great, engaged education to these students? How do these post-traditionals serve as a laboratory for positive change as we live through the current disruptions?
Presenter: David Scobey, Executive Dean, The New School for Public Engagement (N.Y.)

The People: Reason #3 You Should Come to #ADPTDC13

By Stephanie South, Program Associate, AASCU

reason #3 pictureLooking back on the conferences I have attended in the past, spread across a wide array of subjects, there is one constant: the connections, as opposed to the content, are always what I remember most and the real determinate of value to me. I believe that most people share this sentiment, and for those who do, the ADP/TDC National Meeting will be at the top of your worthy events list for 2013 (just to be clear, the content, which we are going to tell you more about next week, is pretty awesome too!).

At its very core, our national meeting is a product of the people—the agenda is driven and constructed with the ideas you propose to us—and it is the people involved in ADP/TDC that make the programs—all year round and at this meeting—more than informational. It is the people with whom we engage.

For starters, by the people, we mean the plenary speakers we bring in to talk about how those of us in higher education can work to prepare the next generation of informed and engaged citizens. Men and women like Peter Levine, Denise Fairchild, and David Scobey. This year, there are also students taking to the stage to share the experiences they have had on their journeys from children to citizen. We’re also talking about partner organizations and sponsors like The New York Times, Lyon Software and GiveGab as well as NCoC, Imagining America, CIRCLE, The Kettering Foundation, NERCHE, Street Law, the Center for the Study of Citizenship, Echoing Green, Citizen Alum, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, Fair Elections Legal Network, Emerald Cities Collaborative, National Issues Forum, and Community Learning Partnership.

And most of all the people are YOU — faculty and students from across the country — who show up, speak up, and share their ideas and energy in order to enhance not only your own work but the work done by others to contribute to the communities we are building together.

By the people. For the people.

#ADPTDC13 Sponsor: Introducing GiveGab–The Social Network for Volunteers

We’re excited to introduce TDC campuses to one of our #ADPTDC13 National Meeting Sponsors: GiveGab. GiveGab is a new social network for volunteers and volunteer managers. Two GiveGab representatives will be at our national meeting in Denver, June 6-8, 2013 to talk to you more about their product and to demo it for you. In the meantime, learn more about GiveGab below!

By Linda Hall, Director of Marketing, GiveGab – The Social Network for Volunteers

Give is a social network designed to connect volunteers with nonprofit organizations and volunteer opportunities. GiveGab is a platform for volunteers to create a volunteer portfolio, while interacting with other volunteers with similar skills, interests and passions in a fun and meaningful manner.  Through the use of GiveGab, students, specifically,  can also create a verified co-curricular transcript to use in grad school applications or when seeking employment.

For colleges and universities, we have taken it a step further, allowing them to create an online community to engage their student volunteers  This allows campuses to coordinate the volunteer efforts of their students, faculty, staff and alumni, while also tracking and promoting the hours and accomplishments of their civic engagement efforts to better assess the impact that their college or university has on their community.  For instance, campuses can glean data from the use of GivGab which is essential in the grant writing and award application processes, along with other fundraising efforts. In fact, GiveGab puts the data needed for national distinctions such as the President’s Honor Roll and Carnegie Community Engagement Classification at your fingertips.

To learn more and to create your free school profile, visit

The Pre-Cons: Reason #4 You Should Come to #ADPTDC13!

By Amee Bearne, National Coordinator, The Democracy Commitment

Pre-conference sessions offer fantastic opportunities for faculty, staff, and students alike to come together to develop their skills and collaborate toward a specific end goal, generally a project or program that can be taken back to the campus for implementation.

This year the American Democracy Project and The Democracy Commitment have put together an impressive roster of options for pre-conference sessions, (that will henceforth be referred to as “pre-cons”) at the national 2013 Denver meeting, June 6- 8, (registration information can be found here).

Interested in the Global Challenges curriculum? There’s a pre-con for that.

Want to learn more about community partnerships and leadership certificates for students? There’s a pre-con for that!

Need support for grant writing, or even finding the grants in the first place? You get the picture – there’s a pre-con for that.

Our pre-conferences begin and end at various times from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 6. While some of the meetings have attendance restricted to participants in a given initiative, many are open to all. Be sure to read the italicized comments for important information or participant restrictions; if none, it is open to anyone interested!

The following is a quick run-down of the available pre-cons:

All day (9 a.m. – 3 p.m.):

  • Campus & Community Civic Health Initiative Summit and Working Lunch (by invitation)
  • Global Challenges Workshop: Educating Globally Competent Citizens & Working Lunch (Registration Fee: $65)
  • Urban Civic Minor Working Meeting and Lunch (closed meeting)

Morning (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.):

  • Stewardship of Public Lands Course Working Group (by invitation)

Partial morning:

  • Political Engagement Project (PEP) Business Meeting (9 a.m – 11 a.m.) (by invitation)
  • Using Street Law as a Means to Promoting Civic Engagement in Community Colleges (10 a.m. – 12 p.m.)

Afternoon (12 p.m. – 3 p.m.):

  • Public Achievement (Open to all Public Achievement Coaches and Coordinators, RSVP to
  • Developing a Winning Civic Engagement Grant Proposal (RSVP required; capped at 15)

Partial day:

  • Developing Educational Pathways into Community Change Careers: The Community Learning Partnership (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
  • eCitizenship Initiative Working Meeting (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.)
  • Metro State University Denver Site Visit (10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) (RSVP required; capped at 25)

Partial afternoon:

  • Stewardship of Public Lands Workshop (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Citizen Alum Invitational Meeting (12 p.m – 1:30 p.m.) (by invitation)
  • Bridging Cultures To Form A Nation: Difference, Community and Democratic Thinking (12 p.m.- 2 p.m.) (Lunch provided; registration is required to Amee Bearne at before June 1.)
  • eJournal of Public Affairs Board Meeting (1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.) (by invitation)
  • Political Engagement Project Pre-Conference Workshop: Exploring Strategies to Educate for Democracy (1 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • ADP Orientation (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • The Democracy Commitment Denver Kickoff (2 p.m. – 3 p.m.) (Attendance of all conference participants from TDC member institutions is requested)
  • The Civic Curriculum: Exploring Learning Objectives for Civic Literacy and Engagement (1:30 p.m – 3 p.m.)

If you are more visual, the following picture might be helpful:

Pre-con schedule picture

Either way, let us know if you have any questions. For more specific information and descriptions of each pre-con visit

See you on Thursday June 6 in Denver!

TDC/ADP 2013 National Meeting CFP Deadline Extended to Feb. 15!

CFP-deadline-extended11(Click the picture above for the CFP online submission page.)

Yup! You read that right; we’ve extended our Call For Proposals until Friday, February 15th! We’ve received many stellar proposals so far, but we realized that our deadline is a bit earlier than it has been in the past. Some of our colleagues are just now back from their winter break! So, we’re giving you a couple more weeks – however, if you weren’t able to make the February 1st deadline we can’t guarantee your proposals will be accepted by the previously stated March 4th response date. We will get back with you as soon as possible.

Remember, we have new session formats this year with lots of opportunities for many different presentation styles. Click here to read them.

Thank you to all who have already sent in presentation proposals! We are excited by all of the great work going on around the country, and we are confident that the excellent proposals received so far will make for a rich conference in June. Denver here we come!


Student Plenary Competition

Student PlenaryThe deadline for our student plenary competition is February 10th. Two ADP students (4-year) and two TDC students (2-year) will keynote one of our plenary sessions on a panel. The four students will receive free registration to our conference and national notoriety! It’s free; it’s easy; it’s fun. Read more about how to enter here.