Founded in 1920, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has, over four decades, become the leading proponent and the national "voice for community colleges." The association was conceived when a group of presidents representing public and independent junior colleges met in St. Louis, Missouri, for a meeting called by the U.S. commissioner of education. Originally named the American Association of Junior Colleges (AAJC), the association was to function as a forum for the nation's two-year colleges.
In 1972, the name of the national organization was changed to the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges (AACJC), reflecting the community orientation of most public, two-year institutions. In 1992, the association’s name was simplified to its present form.
Today, the association represents nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree–granting institutions and more than 13 million students, as well as a growing number of international members in Puerto Rico, Japan, Great Britain, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The colleges are the largest and fastest-growing sector of U.S. higher education, enrolling close to half (45 percent) of all U.S. undergraduates.
Headquartered in the National Center for Higher Education in Washington, D.C., AACC is the primary advocacy organization for community colleges at the national level and works closely with directors of state offices to inform and affect state policy. In addition, AACC is a member of "The Six" large, presidentially based associations and collaborates with a wide range of entities within the higher education community to monitor and influence federal policy and to collaborate on issues of common interest. The association has ongoing interaction with key federal departments and agencies including the U.S. departments of Labor, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, and Commerce, and the National Science Foundation.
AACC supports and promotes its member colleges through policy initiatives, innovative programs, research and information and strategic outreach to business and industry and the national news media. The association's efforts are guided by the AACC 2013-2016 Strategic Plan.
Governed by a 32-member board of directors elected by the membership, AACC is a nonprofit organization whose overriding mission is to "Build a Nation of Learners by Advancing America's Community Colleges."