Achieving the Dream established the Accelerating and Diversifying Nursing Pathways at Community Colleges Initiative  and is leading 10 community colleges in using innovation to drive change in the nursing pipeline by:
  • Increasing diversity in nursing program enrollment
  • Increasing retention of nursing students
  • Creating pathways to living wage nursing positions

Colleges are thinking differently about how and where they market programs to attract more diverse applicants. Colleges are implementing changes that increase program capacity, structure or duration to increase the number of students enrolled each year. Innovations include:

  • Virtual simulation to replace a portion of clinical labs
  • Revised admissions requirements
  • Redesigned admissions processes
  • Community partnerships to increase opportunities for practical experience

Colleges are implementing more focused student support services to better address the challenges students face and increase their sense of belonging. Colleges are thinking differently about credit for prior learning, high school bridge programs and other acceleration strategies to minimize pre-requisite course requirements. Innovations include:

  • Student mentor program
  • Summer bridge course
  • Credit for prior learning policies and processes
  • Redesign of course retake, incomplete and reentry processes

Colleges are creating new, direct pathways from entry-level credentials to living wage nursing positions. Innovations include:

  • Pathways for high school students
  • CNA and LPN to RN specific curriculum

Our nation’s colleges must transform their programs and policies to create more equitable access to and through our institutions that will lead to family-sustaining careers and future economic mobility for our students while filling significant community needs. The Accelerating and Diversifying Nursing Pathways initiative, funded by the generosity of the Brave of Heart Fund, is helping meet the demand for highly trained nurses in municipalities in nine states and is informing ATD’s work and the work of our network colleges as we seek to drive equitable institutional transformation. We are already seeing more students on the pathway to better jobs and increased economic mobility in local labor markets as trained healthcare workers in our communities. But just as importantly, the initiative is helping us identify high-impact practices throughout the student experience that will continue to lead to a valued credential and careers for students from backgrounds that are often underrepresented in high demand STEM fields.

Dr. Karen Stout
President & Chief Executive Officer

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Year 1

Foundation setting

  • Approval by accreditors and legislatures for expanded simulation and new programs
  • Built additional simulation facilities and curriculum
  • Developed new marketing and outreach strategies
  • Established and expanded strategic partnerships
  • Recruited faculty, academic advisors and support staff
  • Redesigned admissions requirements and processes

Years 2-3

Leading indicators of success

  • Expanded capacity in Nursing Programs through simulation, clinical sites, new programs, and policy changes
  • Increased BIPOC and first-generation enrollment in nursing programs and high mobility healthcare pathways
  • Sustainable hiring of representative faculty, academic advisors and support staff
  • Increased completion of early momentum metrics through both academic and non-academic supports (e.g., bridge programs, key gateway courses, policy changes)
  • Increased sense of belonging among students
  • Increased program retention


Longer-term outcomes

  • Stronger pathways to equitable employment outcomes for BIPOC and first-generation students
  • Increased entrance into and completion of high-mobility nursing programs
  • Increased success in passing licensure exams
  • Increased student placement into secure careers that lead to social and economic stability