Apr 27, 2022 9:51 am

The Aspen Institute announced 25 semifinalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, adding a new milestone in the award selection process. The $1 million Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges’ high achievement and improvement of equitable student outcomes. In years past, only 10 finalists have been named on the road to the winner, and this change is designed to highlight the increased number of colleges across the country doing excellent work.
“We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to student persistence and completion with a focus on eliminating areas of inequity and creating opportunities for students to thrive,” said Chancellor Michele Johnson, Ph.D. “This recognition honors our work and inspires us to push forward in helping our students realize their possibilities.”
Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with 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 are thrilled to see America's community colleges making meaningful and measurable progress, educating people from all backgrounds and preparing them for good jobs,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. He cited graduation rates that have risen more than six percent for all students since 2015, and five percent for students of color. “These twenty-five colleges represent our dreams for a better country and a reinvigorated democracy.”
The Prize selection process began this past October, when the Aspen Institute invited 150 community colleges to apply, based on data showing strong and improving student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Applications went to a diverse selection committee of 16 higher education experts who reviewed extensive data and application narratives. Next, the committee will review interviews with leadership teams and narrow this selection of 25 semifinalists to 10 finalists, to be announced in early June 2022.
After 10 finalists are announced, next steps include:
● Fall 2022: Multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists, when teams of experts collect even more student outcomes data and gather insights about effective practices
●Winter of 2023: A distinguished jury decides who wins the Aspen Prize, based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the 10 finalists
●Late spring 2023: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner
Learn more about Aspen and view the full list of the 25 Semifinalists.