College Excellence Program

Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

The $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

Improving community college completion rates is a vital national priority. Their open access and affordability have benefitted millions of Americans, but now the nation must get more community college students successfully through to high-wage career opportunities and further education. Today, there are 13 million students being educated in more than 1,000 community colleges across the country. Of these students, nearly seven million – over forty percent of all those enrolled in postsecondary education – are working towards degrees and certificates. 

In response to President Obama's leadership on this issue and in recognition of the education and workforce imperatives facing our country, the Aspen Institute, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation have partnered to support the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Institute and its partners aim to further the national understanding of community colleges that strive to increase student success, stimulate innovation, and create benchmarks for measuring progress.