Community Colleges

Announcing the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Finalists

May 15, 2018  • College Excellence Program

Community colleges today enroll about 40 percent of all US undergraduates, or approximately six million degree-seeking students. These institutions provide essential pathways to good jobs and continued education. They play an integral role in helping our nation develop talent and enable social mobility. And they disproportionally serve low-income students and students of color who have historically been overlooked and underserved by higher education.

Launched in 2010, the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence honors institutions that strive for and achieve exceptional levels of success for all students, while they are in college and after they graduate.  Today, we are proud to announce and congratulate the 10 finalist institutions for the 2019 Aspen Prize. 

  • Alamo Colleges District – Palo Alto College – San Antonio, TX
  • Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • CUNY Kingsborough Community College – Brooklyn, NY
  • Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
  • Miami Dade College – Miami, FL
  • Mitchell Technical Institute – Mitchell, SD
  • Odessa College – Odessa, TX
  • Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom – Lakewood, WA
  • San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX

These Aspen Prize Top 10 Finalists have achieved strong and improving student success rates in very different contexts – they are from rural and urban areas, serve demographically different student bodies, and offer a varied mix of technical workforce and academic transfer programs. These 10 institutions offer proof that every community college can achieve higher levels of success for students while in college and after they graduate.

In a review of over 100 applications by a 15-member expert selection committee, several strong practices emerged as common among the 10 finalists, including:

  • Strong commitment to improving teaching practices and ensuring all students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed after transfer and in the labor market.
  • Intentional strategies to increase access to and success in courses and programs across all student populations, regardless of race/ethnicity or socioeconomic status.
  • Clear pathways to degrees, aligned to high-demand regional workforce demands.

This fall, the Institute will complete a rigorous review process that includes examination of data on learning, graduation, workforce, and equitable outcomes for all students as well as multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions. In early 2019, a distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalists-with-distinction, and a Rising Star. An award announcement event will be held in Washington, DC in April 2019 to celebrate the achievements of all 10 finalists.

The 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is generously funded by the Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation.

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