W.K. Kellogg and America Achieves Support Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence with $1.5 million

June 28, 2012

Contact: Rachel Roth
The Aspen Institute
202-736-2924 | rachel.roth@aspeninstitute.org

W.K. Kellogg and America Achieves Support Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence with $1.5 million
Aspen Prize Rewards Excellence in Nation’s 1,200 Community Colleges, Which Serve Nearly Half of all Undergraduates in U.S.; Focus is on Improving Learning Outcomes, College Completion, Jobs after College, and Equity

Washington, DC, June 28, 2012 –– The W.K. Kellogg Foundation and America Achieves today announced their commitment of $1.5 million in support of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.  The Prize, inaugurated in 2011, recognizes the most outstanding community colleges for their achievements with respect to student learning outcomes, college completion, labor market success leading to jobs, and equitable opportunity.

W.K. Kellogg, with a grant of $1 million over two years, and America Achieves, with a grant of $500,000 over one year, join the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the JP Morgan Chase Foundation in supporting the Prize in its second year.  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.  America Achieves is a nonprofit organization helping educators and communities identify what works – and build outstanding educational systems to prepare each student for success in college, careers, and citizenship.  

“The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is designed to re-frame America’s sense of what community colleges can be – to acknowledge the most outstanding among them and to challenge all community colleges to achieve better levels of student success,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen College Excellence Program.  “With 40 per cent of America’s college students attending community colleges, tuition rising across the country, and the increasing need for college graduates to have job-ready skills after graduation, excellence in the nation’s community colleges is not merely an option.  It must happen, because the nation is depending on community colleges to provide a quality education that is within reach of millions of American families.”

“Labor economists project that the U.S. faces a shortfall of 20 million workers with college degrees and postsecondary certificates by 2025.  Community colleges must be a critical part of the solution.  As the place where the growing number of minority and low-income students seek higher education, community colleges sit at the intersection of our nation’s efforts to drive economic growth and ensure equal educational opportunity.  That is an important reason why the Kellogg Foundation is enthusiastically supporting this venture.”

“This initiative is important not just because it identifies what works at high-performing community colleges preparing students for high-wage jobs,” said Jon Schnur, Executive Chairman of America Achieves.  “But it also creates impact by distilling lessons learned and providing practical tools to help spread those successes to other colleges and students across the country.  And it will lead to an understanding of strong and effective leadership at the community college level.”

The first inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded in December 2011 to Valencia College, and four finalists-with-distinction, Lake Area Technical Institute (SD), Miami Dade College (FL), Walla Walla Community College (WA), and West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY).  It was the first broad national recognition of extraordinary accomplishments at individual community colleges.

In April, Aspen released the names of the 120 community colleges eligible for the second Prize. Eight to ten finalists will be named in September. The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists in the fall. A distinguished Prize Jury, chaired by John Engler (former Michigan Governor and current president of the Business Roundtable) and Richard Riley (former South Carolina Governor and Secretary of Education), will select a grand prize winner and  four runners-up, to be announced in March 2013.


About The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Prize is funded by America Achieves, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Lumina Foundation for Education.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate campus-wide practices that significantly improve college 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 http://www.aspeninstitute.org/policy-work/aspen-prize.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. 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.

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