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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.

CAMPUS SPHERE: Democracy Wall at Mount Wachusett Community College

Campus sphere poster edges


Mount Wachusett Community College, of Gardner, Massachusetts, recently participated in the growing civic practice, a democracy wall.

Mt Wachusett democracy wall

It was their first interactive Democracy Commitment bulletin board, which they put up the day after the election and left up through the end of the semester. 65 students commented directly on it and hundreds more stopped to read it.

If your school participated in a democracy wall, where would you put it, and what would you ask?


For more information about The Democracy Commitment at Mount Wachusett Community College, please contact Fagan Forhan.

A NEW LEADERSHIP LEGACY: Igniting a National Movement for Student Leadership & Engagement at Community Colleges

The Rappaport Family Foundation is a major donor and partner of The Democracy Commitment. Not only are we incredibly grateful for their support both financially and operationally, we are also very proud to announce their most recent publication, A New Leadership Legacy. The following is a summary about their publication, highlighting many nonprofits they fund–including The Democracy Commitment! Click on the picture to view the full publication in PDF format. You can follow them on Twitter: @RFFSpark, #RFFSpark , #comm_college


The Rappaport Family Foundation supports innovative and promising ways to engage young people, preparing them to be a generation of committed and skilled life-long progressive leaders. We look for unique and untested ways to bring about change. Launched in 2008, on the brink of new social and political movements, the Spark Initiative is our biggest and boldest initiative yet.

Bold Youth Civic Engagement Initiative Reveals Potential of Community College Students

The RFF Spark Initiative, focused on community college students, is a groundbreaking experiment in philanthropy that continues to generate impressive results in community college civic engagement. Our report, A New Leadership Legacy, details the results of our experiment – concluding that investing in student leadership development creates social change on key issues for Millennials – educational equity, immigration reform, and environmental protection, among others.

With less than $1 million dollars, the Foundation made 18 grants that invested in untested but promising ideas to engage, inspire and train community college students to be long-lasting leaders. The first three years of this bold project was concentrated in California where community colleges serve nearly 70 percent of undergraduates.

Some of our Grants Include:

  • The Democracy Commitment: Created a national network of community college presidents, faculty, staff, and students who are committed to increasing civic engagement culture and activity on campus. Hundreds of leaders are now on board.
  • New Organizing University: Disseminated an engagement organizing framework and provided curriculum to hundreds of community college students via online courses. Working with Harvard University’s renowned organizer Marshall Ganz, community college students were given a cutting edge blueprint for change.
  • Campaign for College Opportunity: Launched a statewide  program to train community college students to go on to play important roles in California education initiatives.
  • Coleman Advocates for Youth’s Students Making a Change: Supported an exciting partnership between an existing community organization and a city college that has led to the advancement and support of life-long leaders, concrete initiatives to close the achievement gap, and the strengthening of policy advocacy.

Some of the Leaders Supported by our Grantees Include: 

Emily – Key in helping shape statewide community college policy, making it stronger,and more student-centered. She offered the critically important community college student perspective in negotiating policy amendments.

“Because of our activism, my peers and I have ensured that important education legislation includes language that requires student input in implementation and future policy changes that will directly affect students…I have testified at higher Ed Assembly and Senate Budget Committees… I have advocated for my fellow students with my District Board, The Community College League of CA, and with various state-wide leaders.”

Carlos – Shaped education policy on his campus as a newly-elected Student Senate Representative and Student Trustee.

“As an student and the son of a single mother farm worker, I would have never considered the possibility of running for Student Senate as the Student trustee had it not been for my on-campus experiences. The initiatives I took part in showed me my own power as a leader and community representative.”

Veronica – Empowered to share her civic engagement experience with others, Veronica now speaks to young progressives as the most effective recruiter for her program.

“I am 100% determined to work for a social justice organization after graduation. I feel I have found my life purpose and path.”

Carnegie Invites Institutions to Apply for 2015 Community Engagement Classification

Carnegie Logo
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching invites colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement to apply for the elective classification, first developed and offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The elective Community Engagement Classification provides a way for institutions to describe their identity and commitments to community with a public and nationally recognized classification.

A total of 311 institutions have been successfully classified in the Community Engagement Classification since 2006. Campuses that received the Classification in 2006 and 2008 will undertake re-classification application and review in order to retain the Classification. Campuses classified in 2010 do not need to apply for re-classification at this time.

“The Community Engagement Classification represents a significant affirmation of the importance of community engagement in the agenda of higher education,” said Carnegie President Anthony S. Bryk.  “The Foundation believes that the Classification provides campuses of every institutional type an opportunity to affirm a commitment to community engagement as an essential aspect of institutional mission and identity.”

The Foundation defines community engagement as “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity. The purpose of community engagement is the partnership of college and university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, and creative activity; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address critical societal issues; and contribute to the public good.” That definition and the documentation frameworks for the classification and re-classification are intentionally inclusive to honor the diversity of institutions and their approaches to community engagement.

Those institutions interested in the 2015 Classification, either as first-time applicants or campuses seeking re-classification, are urged to review the application process, timeline, documentation frameworks, and other information on the Carnegie website before making a decision to apply. Applications are available between May 1 and July 1, 2013, and will be due on April 15, 2014.

2015 Community Engagement Classification Timeline
January 2013 Announcement about the 2015 process
May 1, 2013 Deadline for registering
September 9, 2013 Release of applications
April 15, 2014 Applications Due/Reviewing begins
December 2014 Review Process completed/ campuses notified
January 2015 2015 classification results announced

2015 Classification: Campus Classification and Re-Classification

  • First Time Classification
    For the 2015 classification, campuses that have not previously received the classification will need to submit an application using what is referred to as the “first-time documentation framework.” A PDF version of the Documentation Framework to be used for planning purposes only is available here. There is also a guide attached to this version to assist institutions in the documentation planning process.
  • Re-Classification
    For the 2015 classification, institutions that received the classification in 2006 and 2008 and are seeking to retain the classification will be able to re-apply through a reclassification process. A PDF version of the application for reclassification to be used for planning purposes only is available.
  • 2010 Classified Institutions
    Institutions that received the classification in 2010 will not need to do anything in 2015. 2010 classified campuses will retain the classification until 2020. To be reclassified in 2020, the 2010 campuses will need to reapply through a reclassification process announced in 2018.

Inquiries about the Community Engagement Classification should be directed to John Saltmarsh at ( or Amy Driscoll (

John Saltmarsh, Director
New England Resource Center for Higher Education
617 287-7743

Amy Driscoll, Consulting Scholar
Carnegie Community Engagement Classification
503 227-9443

Fifth Annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies (free!), held at Tufts University

boston-summer-make-way-for-ducklings_dmh132 The fifth annual Summer Institute of Civic Studies will be an intensive, two-week, interdisciplinary seminar bringing together advanced graduate students, faculty, and practitioners from diverse fields of study.

Organized by Peter Levine, Tisch College, and Karol Sołtan, University of Maryland, the Summer Institute features guest seminars by distinguished colleagues from various institutions and engages participants in challenging discussions such as:

  • What kinds of citizens (if any) do good regimes need?
  • What should such citizens know, believe, and do?
  • What practices and institutional structures promote the right kinds of citizenship?
  • What ought to be the relationships among empirical evidence, ethics, and strategy?

The syllabus for the fourth annual seminar (in 2012) is here. The 2013 syllabus will be modified but will largely follow this outline. You can also read more about the motivation for the Institute in the “Framing Statement”.

The daily sessions will take place from July 8-18, 2013, at the Tufts campus in Medford, MA. The seminar will be followed (from July 18 at 6 pm until July 20 at 3 pm) by a public conference–Frontiers of Democracy 2013–in downtown Boston. Participants in the institute are expected to stay for the public conference. See information on the 2012 conference.

Tuition for the Institute is free, but students are responsible for their own housing and transportation. A Tufts University dormitory room can be rented for $230-$280/week. Credit is not automatically offered, but special arrangements for graduate credit may be possible.

To apply: please email your resume, an electronic copy of your graduate transcript (if applicable), and a cover email about your interests to Peter Levine. For best consideration, apply no later than March 15, 2012.  You may also sign up for occasional announcements even if you are not sure that you wish to apply:

– Peter Levine and Karol Sołtan.

Announcing the 2013 ADP/TDC Student Plenary Video Competition


Every year at the American Democracy Project/The Democracy Commitment joint national meeting, we have fantastic, inspiring, and intelligent individuals present as plenary speakers. Nonprofit leaders like Ami Dar, CEO of; scholars such as Byron White, Vice President for University Engagement at Cleveland State University; and civic leaders such as John Saltmarsh, Co-Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) are just a few of the many incredible minds that have presented plenary talks and enhanced the work of civic engagement for the last 10 years, and we are infinitely grateful for their presence.public speaking

While we’ve included students in plenary sessions before, this year we want to have an entire plenary session focused on student perspectives of civic learning and engagement.

Here’s our plan

In preparation for our 2013 ADP/TDC national meeting in Denver, Colorado from June 6th – 8th, we are holding a nation-wide video competition to create a panel of four students to keynote our conference, two from ADP colleges and universities and two from TDC member community colleges.

Here’s how it’ll work:

Students interested in participating in the 2013 ADP/TDC Student Plenary video competition should:

  1. Answer the following questions:
    • How can colleges and universities better prepare students to be the informed, engaged citizens our democracy needs?
    • What barriers do you believe exist to your meaningful engagement in campus and community life?
    • How has civic engagement, in any aspect, helped you succeed in your academic career? (Feel free to share a personal story.)
  2. Create a 2-3 minute video cleverly, thoughtfully, and eloquently answering the questions above in your own words, conveying your own style and personality.
  3. Upload that video to YouTube by Sunday, February 10, 2013.
  4. Send us the URL:
    • For ADP student submissions, send the video link to ADP National Manager Jen Domagal-Goldman at
    • For TDC student submissions, send the video link to TDC National Coordinator Amee Bearne at  

  5. A panel of judges will choose their favorite videos to move to the next round. These selected videos will then be voted on by the general public.
  6. If you are chosen as a finalist you will receive a link on Friday, February 22nd, 2013 to share with your friends, family, or anyone! The link will direct voters to the page of finalist videos where they can watch and vote on their preferred submission.
  7. Find out if you were chosen to participate as one of the selected panelists on March 4, 2013.

The four chosen student panelists will each receive a free registration to the 2013 ADP/TDC National Meeting and will be highlighted with a picture and bio on our conference mobile app.

During the panel presentation at the ADP/TDC National Meeting, a moderator will introduce the student panelists and show clips of the selected videos. Panelists will be given time to speak about their civic engagement experiences at their institutions and will be asked by the moderator to respond to a set of questions that will be provided to each panelist prior to the conference. This plenary session will also have an open question and answer period.


  • Videos must not contain material that violates or infringes another’s rights, including but not limited to privacy, publicity or intellectual property rights, or that constitutes copyright or license infringement.
  • All videos submitted to the 2013 ADP/TDC Student Plenary video competition remain the intellectual property of the individuals who developed them. However, AASCU, its American Democracy Project, and The Democracy Commitment are given a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, publish, distribute and exhibit all submitted videos in any and all formats or manner for educational or promotional purposes consistent with our missions.