College Promise Resources

The College Promise movement aims to make two years of community college education as universally available to all Americans as K-12 education.

In 1947, a special commission delivered a report, "Higher Education for American Democracy," to President Harry S. Truman. The report emphasized the necessity of incorporating vocational education into American higher education, and stated that all Americans should have the opportunity to complete two years of post-high-school higher education at no cost as an extension of the American public K-12 school system. The College Promise movement is an effort to fulfill this never-realized vision—to keep the college promise.

Over the past couple of years, the movement has evolved into a dynamic bipartisan effort, which has included the America's College Promise proposal made by U.S. President Barack Obama, the bipartisan U.S. Senate and House of Representatives America's College Promise Acts of 2015, and both statewide and institution-specific College Promise programs that have been expanding rapidly throughout the country. To encourage and help to coordinate the movement, an independent, nonpartisan College Promise Campaign was founded by former U.S. Under Secretary of Education Dr. Martha J. Kanter in 2015. ACCT in partnership with the Campaign and with the American Association of Community Colleges created a College Promise Campaign toolkit for community college board members and presidents who are interested in advancing the movement. ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown wrote extensively about the importance of realizing the Truman Commission promise in his 2012 book First in the World: Community Colleges and America's Future; President Brown serves on the College Promise Campaign Advisory Board

Employers report a growing demand for "middle skills" workers, with jobs available to be filled but no qualified employees to fill those jobs. Many higher education and thought leaders, including the Harvard Business Review, have stated that the college promise "would help to fix the skills gap."

ACCT encourages community college boards, CEOs and other leaders to learn about the college promise movement and to consider whether a promise program is right for your students. Here, we introduce you to a number of different program designs and a wide variety of funding models, answer some of the most commonly asked questions, and link you to resources from other leading organizations such as the College Promise Campaign.


If your college is involved in the College Promise movement and would like to share experiences and resources with ACCT and our membership via our website, ACCT Now or Trustee Quarterly magazine, contact David Conner.