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, the Kresge Foundation, and 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.

2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

For millions of Americans, community colleges provide an essential pathway to well-paying jobs and continuing higher education. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence honors those institutions that strive for and achieve exceptional levels of success for all students, while they are in college and after they graduate.

The Aspen Institute is pleased to name the following 10 community college finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Aspen’s Finalist Selection Committee, comprised of former community college presidents, respected researchers and policy experts, selected the ten finalist institutions after reviewing extensive data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce outcomes, and equitable outcomes for all students, focusing on those in traditionally underserved racial/ethnic groups – African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American – and those from low-income backgrounds. Of the 150 institutions named eligible in January, over one hundred applied to compete for the Prize.

Winner of the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

Santa Fe College (Gainesville, FL)
National Press Release
Media Contact: Chuck Clemons, (352) 395-5200

Finalists with Distinction

Lake Area Technical Institute (Watertown, SD)
Press Release
Media Contact: LuAnn Strait, (605) 882-5284 Ext. 241

West Kentucky Community and Technical College (Paducah, KY)
Press Release
Media Contact: Janett Blythe, (270) 534-3079

“Rising Star” – Award for Rapid Student Improvement

Kennedy-King College (Chicago, IL)
Press Release
Media Contact: Katheryn Hayes, (312) 553-2719


Brazosport College (Lake Jackson, TX)
Press Release
Media Contact: Kyle Smith, (979) 230-3489

El Paso Community College (El Paso, TX)
Press Release
Media Contact: Keri Moe, (915) 831-6475

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College (Bronx, NY)
Press Release
Media Contact: Ana Carrión-Silva, (718) 518-4407

Indian River State College (Fort Pierce, FL)
Press Release
Media Contact: Dr. Mary Locke, (772) 462-7225

Olympic College (Bremerton, WA)
Press Release
Media Contact: Amanda Gebhardt-Fuentes, (360) 475-7721

Renton Technical College (Renton, WA)
Press Release
Media Contact: Melissa Rohlfs, (425) 235-2356