Community Colleges for Democracy

Campus Compact is dedicated to the advancement of civic and democratic learning and engagement in community colleges.  This national networking group ensures that millions of community college students graduate with an education in democracy and civic responsibility.  Community Colleges for Democracy (CC4D) is committed to preparing students to be informed, active, and mobilized leaders in their communities, states, and the world, in addition to preparing them for the workforce and careers.

Our community college network group creates highly effective programs, resources, and convenings that transform the community college experience for students.  It is our goal that upon graduation, students will have the knowledge, skills, and motivations to actively participate in our democracy.   For more information, contact Verdis L. Robinson, Director of Community College Engagement at verdis {at} compact(.)org.

On July 1, 2018, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) merged with Campus Compact after seeing the urgent need to increase capacity and reach.  Community Colleges for Democracy is the name of the merger and the networking group is based in the Campus Compact Office in Boston, Massachusetts, and led by Verdis Robinson, Director of Community College Engagement.

History of The Democracy Commitment (TDC)

In 2011, The Democracy Commitment (TDC) confronted challenging gaps in the civic landscape.  With the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continuing, and divisiveness and partisanship growing, America seemed unable to address some of its most pressing public problems.  Community College students, like many Americans, were increasingly marginalized and alienated from the political institutions on which their communities depended.  Across higher education and at community colleges in particular, the national focus on workforce development was opening another gap between a contemporary view of education as job training and a historic vision of education as preparation for civic life.

Seeing these gaps widening, Dr. Brian Murphy (president De Anza College), the Late Dr. Bernie Ronan (associate vice chancellor for Public Affairs for the Maricopa Community Colleges), and Dr. George Mehaffy (vice president for Academic Leadership and Change at American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) created TDC as a project that would mirror for community colleges what AASCU’s American Democracy Project (ADP) had done for state colleges and universities since 2003.  Thus ADP and TDC grew out of a shared context of frustration and despair as well as a shared commitment to education and action.

TDC formally launched at the offices of The New York Times on November 11, 2011. 50 presidents and chancellors from community colleges and districts nationwide were early signatories dedicated to the cause of democracy in higher education, and to make democratic skills available to all individuals who desire a voice and a seat at the table of local, state, and national discourse and action.

TDC grew to provide a platform for the development and expansion of community college programs, projects, and curricula aimed at engaging students in civic learning and democratic engagement.  The merger with Campus Compact has created a unique opportunity to expand the reach and mission of TDC to a broader network as the alignment with Campus Compact’s mission is clear.

The work and legacy of Brian Murphy and the late Bernie Ronan will live on with Campus Compact’s Community Colleges for Democracy.

Community Colleges for Democracy is a national networking group of community colleges within the coalition of Campus Compact.  There are currently 240 community colleges in Campus Compact.

To participated in CC4D, institutions must be members of Campus Compact.  Please see contact Verdis L. Robinson at verdis {at} compact(.)org or your local Campus Compact office to become a member.


We believe that community colleges are charged with preparing students to be informed, active, and mobilized citizens in their communities, states, and the world, in addition to preparing them for the workforce and careers. Campus Compact will support members in this work, providing programming specifically designed for community colleges, while offering valuable connections to national organizations and other campuses that are intentionally engaging in civic work to benefit students.

Community colleges have exclusive opportunities to participate in signatures projects, a blend of national and campus-centered activities that deal with critical national dialogues and issues such as political engagement, inequality, deliberative democracy, community conversations, civic agency, and civic curriculum development.

Engage the Election
Engage the Election is a community college electoral engagement project focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities of democracy’s colleges.  Our goal is to develop a series of webinars, toolkits, lesson plans, and assignments in order to integrate electoral education into the curriculum, across disciplines, and on campuses in exciting and engaging ways to increase voter registration, information, and turnout.  Click HERE for more information.

Higher Education Civic Outcomes Study
The Higher Education Civic Outcomes Study is a survey and research project in partnership with the Center for the Study of Community Colleges that studies the outcomes of college students’ civic learning and engagement.  Results can guide institutional civic efforts. The next phase of the Higher Education Civic Outcomes Survey is currently in development.

Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation
2012-2015, The Democracy Commitment and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) joined to develop a three-year curriculum and faculty development project supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Through this partnership, project participants used the online learning platform to develop forums and to share and co-create resources and course materials.

Clashes over citizenship

Citizenship Under Siege
In an age of fractious differences about this topic when finding common ground seems elusive, The Democracy Commitment and The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&C) joined with seven community colleges to orchestrate a series of public forums each with accompanying programs and educational resources to bridge the rifts.  Organized under the common theme, Citizenship Under Siege and supported by a grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the events are framed through the powerful historic, ethical, and narrative lenses of the humanities.  This project was in 2016.

Deliberative Democracy Initiative
From 2015-2018, The Democracy Commitment partnered with the Kettering Foundation and the Center for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) in a multi-year initiative and research study to broaden and deepen the use of deliberative civic engagement practices among community colleges.  The Deliberative Dialogue Project has engaged 11 community college campuses in moderator trainings, national issues forums, and reflective study on the impact of public deliberation.

Economic Inequality- ADP/TDC Joint Initiative
Co-led by TDC’s Mount Wachusett Community College (Mass.) and ADP’s Keene State College (N.H.), a cohort of 9 TDC member institutions joined with ADP campuses in a three-year initiative to understand the impact of economic inequality on our democracy. The goal of this initiative is to help students think about and take action to confront the complex causes of growing economic inequality.


CC4D will begin to build a collection of toolkits, resources, and actionable materials that advance civic and democratic engagement and learning specific to the needs of community colleges. CC4D will also serve as a national platform for the development and expansion of programs and will build series of actionable print and web-based civic engagement best practice guides for community colleges available Spring and Fall of 2019. 

Series on Strategically Aligning Civic Engagement with Community College Institutional Strategic Priorities:

  • Workforce and Economic Development
  • Enrollment, Completion, and Pathways
  • Access, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Assessment and Accreditation

Civic and Democratic Learning and Engagement Best Practice Series for Community Colleges:

  • Leveraging Constitution and Citizenship Day
  • Electoral and Political Engagement
  • Integrating Civic Learning Across Curriculum
  • Deepening Deliberative Practice and Dialogues
  • Transformational Community Engagement
  • Equity in Organizing, Engaging, and Activating Students

Check out some of the great resources we have in our general resource library by searching for “community college.”


Check out some of the upcoming events that have recently been added for community colleges on the events calendar.  The following types of events have been added as convening opportunities for community college networking and professional development:

  • Workshops and Institutes
  • Conference sessions
  • Pre-conference Workshops
  • Webinars and Virtual Dialogues

Community College events will soon be tagged so that you can search for them directly.  In the meantime, look for them using “Community College” in the search field.



We have created communication vehicles specific to community college audiences to build a national network platform.  Please connect to Community Colleges for Democracy in the following avenues: