Around the Institute

Top US Community Colleges Commit to Collectively Graduating Nearly 50 Percent More Students by 2020

March 16, 2015  • Josh Wyner

Contact: Leigh Arsenault
Program Manager
Aspen College Excellence Program
202-736-3504 | [email protected]

Top US Community Colleges Commit to Collectively Graduating Nearly 50 Percent More Students by 2020 

Commitments made at White House Summit on College Opportunity;
Aspen Institute announces new $100,000 award for “Most Improved” in student success as part
of March 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Award

Washington, DC, December 4, 2014 – Top community colleges in the nation today committed to collectively graduating an additional 6,500 students by 2020, including many from disadvantaged backgrounds. At the White House College Opportunity Day of Action, a summit hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, the 15 participating colleges – all former winners and finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence – pledged to increase the total number of graduates produced by nearly 50 percent above current levels.

The Aspen College Excellence Program convened this new community college collaborative in response to President Obama’s call to increase the number of American’s with college degrees. For more information about these top colleges and the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, visit: www.aspenprize.org.

“Aspen Prize finalist community colleges have already demonstrated that they can achieve remarkable levels of student success and that they are committed to continuous improvement,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program and author of What Excellent Community Colleges Do. “This new commitment reflects the belief among faculty, staff, and leaders at these Aspen Prize institutions that through collaboration and sharing of strategies their colleges can measurably improve student success.”

Each of the 15 participating colleges has established its own completion goals based on the specific initiatives and priorities of their campuses. For example, some have focused on increasing enrollment and completion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields, while others have set overall completion goals tied to the implementation of promising practices around developmental education or introductory course re-design. With few exceptions, the colleges are making these commitments without expecting increases in state funding or other revenues, and thus additional graduates will be achieved at the same or reduced costs. 

New Aspen Prize Award – Most Improved in Student Success
At the White House Summit on College Opportunity today, Aspen also announced that a new $100,000 award for “most improved” in the area of student success would be awarded at the March 2015 announcement of the winner of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The new award will highlight successful practices from community colleges that have made dramatic improvement, especially in contexts where the barriers to student success are high and the fewest students have been succeeding. For more information about the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, visit: www.aspenprize.org.

Since its launch in 2011, the College Excellence Program has focused on rewarding and shining a spotlight on community colleges with both strong achievement and improvement in student outcomes through its Prize for Community College Excellence. Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide. With a singular focus on student success, the Aspen Prize assesses achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

List of 15 Participating Colleges

1. Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – 2013 and 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
2. College of the Ouachitas (Malvern, AR) – 2013 for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
3. El Paso Community College (El Paso, TX) – 2013 and 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
4. Hostos Community College (Bronx, NY) – 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
5. Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, FL) – 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
6. Kennedy-King College (Chicago, IL) – 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
7. Lake Area Technical Institute (Watertown, SD) – 2011, 2013, 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
8. Olympic College (Bremerton, WA) – 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
9. Renton Technical College (Renton, WA) – 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
10. Santa Barbara City College (Santa Barbara, CA) – 2013 Co-Winner of Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
11. Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL) – 2013, 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
12. Southwest Texas Junior College (Uvalde, TX) – 2011 Finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
13. Valencia College (Orlando, FL) – 2011 Winner of Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
14. West Kentucky Community & Technical College (Paducah, KY) – 2011, 2013, 2015 Finalist for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
15. Walla Walla Community College (Walla Walla, WA) – 2013 Co-Winner of Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

### 

The Aspen Prize is funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org/college-excellence.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.