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Achieving the Dream Dialogue-to-Action Initiative 2009-2010

Initiative Description

The Achieving the Dream Dialogue-to-Action initiative involved the efforts of UHD students, UHD CPD Student Associates, staff, faculty, administrators, and Houston citizens to create and actualize a vision for the success for our college students. In the Spring of 2009, over 100 different individuals from various ethnic, racial, religious, political backgrounds, as well as different roles in the community (staff, faculty, students, community members of various ranks) were involved or participated in a series of meetings (five meetings in total - 2 hours each in length) known as "Dialogue-to-Action Circles." Launched by the UHD Center for Public Deliberation in partnership with Achieving the Dream (ATD), the Dialogue-to-Action Circles immersed community members in a intensive visioning and planning process that included a study of the current achievement gap that is affecting college students and their success, and ways in which all members of the internal and external UHD community might address this issue to help more college students succeed. From 2010 – 2011, the implementation teams that emerged from these circles worked to implement their vision and action.

Initiative Goals

The overarching goal for the Dialogue-to-Action initiative is to build the capacity of students, faculty, staff, and Houston citizens to engage in college reform at the University of Houston - Downtown, building justice-oriented models for academic and other types of support for college students, and to establish a network of activists who will advocate for supportive educational policies and practices. Through building this type of activity, there are several important supporting goals.

Supporting Goals

  • Increase understanding about the need to help more students succeed at UHD
  • Expand the understanding of who can help improve college success
  • Encourage commitment to find common ground between the varied perspectives on the issue
  • Build confidence that members with diverse views can talk together about difficult subjects
  • Develop better understanding between participants of the DTA circles and to work to build trust in one another
  • Empower participants to develop ideas and work together for action to address their concerns
  • Build and strengthen community projects and policy, which support the goals of Achieving the Dream 
  • Build students’ civic skills and knowledge by supporting students in the development of high quality deliberation skills
  • Establish a culture of dialogue and deliberation across and among various groups within the UHD community

 Initiative Outcomes

  • Key findings were written up in a final report, presented to the UHD President’s Executive Council, and used by the President to inform strategic action across the university. Read the final report by contacting Dr. Windy Lawrence
  • Dr. Windy Lawrence & UHD CPD Student Associates were invited to speak about deliberative democracy and its importance to education on First Tuesdays (90.1 FM) Contact Dr. Windy Lawrence for audio of this broadcast.
  • UHD CPD’s initiative was adopted by Achieving the Dream as a national model for college success and community engagement. Watch a slide show documentary of this initiative.
  • Four Implementation Teams were formed. To learn more read the Implementation Teams’ Time Line, Overall Duties, & Agendas and the Team meeting minutes documents, contact Dr. Windy Lawrence
    Teams included:
    • Team 1 Minutes: Build More Professional Relationships 
    • Team 2 Minutes: Help expand University Advancement 
    • Team 3 Minutes: Help make the Student Lounge happen 
    • Team 4 Minutes: Expand Resources & Services 
  • Each of the Implementation Teams achieved significant results. One significant result included the building of the UHD Student Lounge in order to support better “learning communities” for UHD students. 
  • The Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences used the findings about advising to create a monthly advising meet and greet for her College’s students.

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