Highlighting the critical importance of improving student success in America’s community colleges, the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program has named Kishwaukee College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.
The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, 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.
The Aspen Institute identified the top 150 community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures. Together, the 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the Aspen Prize represent the diversity and richness of the entire sector:
- They are located in 37 states across the nation;
- They represent urban, rural, and suburban markets; and
- They encompass big community colleges and small community colleges—from Miami Dade College in Florida serving over 100,000 students to Carver Career Center in West Virginia serving fewer than 500 students.
Nearly half of the college students in the United States attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.
“Community colleges have tremendous power to change lives, and their success will increasingly define our nation’s economic strength and the potential for social mobility for every American” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “This competition is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges, those that best help students obtain meaningful, high-quality education and training for competitive-wage jobs after college. We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide.”
The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to co-winners Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural Aspen Prize winner in 2011.
Kishwaukee College and the other 149 community colleges were selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes. The formula used to select the colleges was devised by expert analysts at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems in consultation with an expert advisory committee convened by the Aspen Institute.
Ten finalists will be named in fall 2014. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner as well as name finalists with distinction in early 2015. Learn more here.
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