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 Obama Administration Receives Harry S. Truman Award from AACC 

April 20, 2017
Contact: Martha Parham
202/728-0200, x209

Award honors the administration’s commitment to community colleges

WASHINGTON, DC– For eight years, the Obama Administration placed community colleges in the forefront of discussions on workforce development, the nation’s economy and college affordability. The administration was the first to shine a spotlight on the valuable contribution that community colleges make to the nation in developing America's workforce and reaching our educational goals.

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) will recognize the work of the Obama Administration during the opening session of AACC’s 97th Annual Convention on Saturday, April 22 in New Orleans, La. Dr. Jill Biden will be in attendance to accept the award on behalf of the administration.

On October 5, 2010, Dr. Jill Biden served as chair of the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. Approximately 100 community college leaders were in attendance, and campuses across the nation streamed the event.

A key tenet of the Obama Administration’s education agenda focused on tooling and retooling the workforce. Since 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program has helped two-year colleges to build industry-aligned programs in manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, energy, transportation and other industries. Through TAACCCT, nearly 2,600 programs at community colleges have been developed or redesigned, and more adults are now in family-supporting jobs. The administration also supported expanded access to apprenticeships. In 2015, $175 million in apprenticeship grants went to 46 organizations, institutions and businesses pledging to train workers.

The Obama Administration also pushed community colleges to increase student success. In 2010, the administration called for community colleges to graduate an additional 5 million students by 2020. It was part of a bigger goal to make America once again lead the world in degree attainment. President Obama issued the charge, and community colleges have responded. Through strategic initiatives and innovative thinking, graduation rates are up at colleges across the country.

Understanding that cost is a barrier to higher education for many, in 2015 the Obama Administration proposed a bold initiative: America’s College Promise. It would guarantee tuition-free community college for responsible students. Out of this proposal came the College Promise Campaign and HeadsUp America, which have brought together key leaders from across sectors, charted promising practices and models currently implementing free community college, and built awareness of College Promise programs across the nation. In addition, the administration increased the Pell Grant program award maximum, and secured language that the Pell Grant maximum would increase over a number of years.

Higher education policies during the Obama Administration seemed to all be aimed at protecting and supporting students and their families. Work was done to improve campus diversity and inclusion. The Federal Application for Federal Student Aid was simplified. The rulebook on college sexual assaults was rewritten. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allowed more immigrants to get an education. The American Opportunity Tax Credit helped parents and students cover a portion of their college costs.

The American Association of Community Colleges thanks the Obama Administration for recognizing the important role community colleges play and for helping to advance their mission.


As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), delivers educational and economic opportunity for 13 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s nearly 1,200 member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.

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