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San Jacinto College is finalist for Aspen Institute $1 million excellence prize

BRENDA HELLYER, SAN JACINTO COLLEGE PRES.

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2022 — Today the Aspen Institute announced the ten finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Started in 2010, the $1 million Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students. The ten finalists represent the amazing potential of America’s thousand-plus community colleges as engines of prosperity and social mobility.

The finalists also represent the impressive diversity of community colleges, from a 2,700-student college in Iowa granting primarily technical awards to a 57,000-student college in Florida with a focus on transfer and bachelor’s degree attainment. Excellent community colleges, regardless of their size or location, are defined by their focus on outcomes and their emphasis on developing students’ talents and strengthening their regional economies and communities.

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges that show outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2023.

“We’re grateful to all the experts who have helped Aspen identify these impressive colleges,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We can’t wait to dive in to learn more about how they have achieved these measurable student outcomes so we can share what we learn with the field.”

The finalists are:

— Amarillo College, TX
— Broward College, FL
— Hostos Community College (CUNY), NY
— Imperial Valley College, CA
— Kingsborough Community College (CUNY), NY
— Moorpark College, CA
— Northwest Iowa Community College, IA
— San Jacinto College, TX
— South Puget Sound Community College, WA
— Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, WI

The Aspen Prize selection process began in October 2021, when the Aspen Institute worked with an expert data panel to craft a formula to assess student outcomes at nearly 1,000 community colleges in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Based on those data, we invited 150 top community colleges to apply, and received 109 applications. A selection committee of 16 higher education experts reviewed applications, including extensive data and narratives on student success strategies. From the 25 highest ranking colleges, announced as semifinalists in April, the committee met in May to choose the 10 Aspen Prize finalists.

Next steps include:

Fall 2022: Additional data gathered on student outcomes, including in employment after college; multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists to gather insights about effective practices

Winter of 2023: A distinguished jury decides the Aspen Prize winner, based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the 10 finalists.

Late spring 2023: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner

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The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan, and the Kresge Foundation.

Previous winners are:

— 2021: San Antonio College (TX)
— 2019: Indian River State College (FL) and Miami Dade College (FL)
— 2017: Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)
— 2015: Santa Fe College (FL)
— 2013: Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA)
— 2011: Valencia College (FL)

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit us at highered.aspeninstitute.org or on LinkedIn or Twitter @AspenHigherEd. The Aspen Prize hashtag is #AspenPrize.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.

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