K-12 Education

Announcing the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Finalists

September 13, 2016  • College Excellence Program

(Photo Credit: istockphoto)

(Photo Credit: istockphoto)

What community colleges do matters. The success of our nation’s community colleges is integrally tied to the success of millions of students, thousands of communities, and the economy of our entire country.

Launched in 2010, the 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 announce and congratulate the 2017 Aspen Prize Finalists:

  • Anoka-Ramsey Community College – Coon Rapids, MN
  • Broward College – Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Chaffey College – Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
  • Lake Area Technical Institute – Watertown, SD
  • Northeast Community College – Norfolk, NE
  • Odessa College – Odessa, TX
  • Pasadena City College – Pasadena, CA
  • San Jacinto College – Pasadena, TX
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College – Paducah, KY

Lake Area Tech and West Kentucky have been finalists in every one of the four Aspen Prize cycles, and Broward and Indian River are being named finalists for a second time.

The 2017 Aspen Prize finalists stand as proof of what is possible in an open-access environment. This diverse group of ten community colleges is setting a standard for what all community colleges can achieve in four crucial areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings for graduates, and levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

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

  • Clarifying pathways to degrees and investing in comprehensive advising systems to ensure students don’t fall through the cracks
  • Working to keep costs down, even in cases where public investments are shrinking
  • Engaging faculty in improving teaching practices and ensuring students gain skills they need to succeed after transfer and in the labor market
  • Cultivating strong community partnerships that lead to superior hands-on job training to help students obtain—and succeed in—high-paying jobs soon after graduation
  • Setting goals and devising intentional strategies to eliminate gaps in student success outcomes between racial/ethnic and socioeconomic groups

This fall, Aspen will gather significantly more data about the finalists’ student outcomes in learning, completion, labor market success, and equity. Teams of national experts will also travel to the finalist community colleges to learn more about each institution’s student success achievements and strategies. After a rigorous review from our distinguished Prize jury, a winner and up to four finalists with distinction will be chosen.

We are excited to announce the name of the Prize winner and finalists with distinction in March 2017 in Washington, DC, and look forward to more community colleges being inspired to raise the bar for student success!

Read more about the top 10 finalists in the 2017 Aspen Prize Finalist announcement press release.