Out of the more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide, 150 have been deemed eligible to compete for The Aspen Institute's Prize for Community College Excellence. Worth $1 million and called "the Oscars for great community colleges” by former President Barack Obama, the award is given every two years to spotlight the community college sector.
"Student outcomes vary enormously among community colleges, and improving those outcomes is essential to securing our nation’s economic future, strengthening communities, and ensuring that diverse populations experience economic mobility and prosperity," states the nonprofit. "With these goals in mind, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding achievement in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds."
According to the nonprofit, this year's eligible colleges --- which represent urban, rural and suburban areas across 34 states and vary dramatically in size --- stand out for having high levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black, Hispanic and low-income students. To be considered for the award, which will be announced in spring 2023, the colleges must now submit "data and narratives in an intensive data and practice review process."