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MetLife Community College Excellence Award Finalists Revealed

Community colleges have always been the open-access bridge into the workforce or a four-year college for numerous minority and other underrepresented student populations. The MetLife Foundation has launched its Community College Excellence Award program to recognize two-year colleges that have demonstrated the biggest commitment to serving this underprivileged cadre of students, and six colleges have been selected as finalists.

The Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, Harry S. Truman College in Chicago, Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minnesota, Queensborough Community College in New York, South Texas College and Yakima Valley Community College in Washington are the school identified as finalists for the award.

At the 2008 American Association of Community Colleges convention in Philadelphia, two of these institutions will win the MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award, administered by Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit education advocacy organization. The award comes with a $30,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation.

“Our nation needs every community college student, particularly those from low-income and minority groups, to succeed in their educational programs,” says MetLife Foundation President and CEO Sibyl Jacobson. “These colleges have set ambitious goals for themselves and their students and they are making real progress in supporting student success,” she adds.

The two winners of the MetLife Community College Excellence Award are required to demonstrate significant institutional commitments to helping first-time college-goers, new immigrants, working adults, welfare recipients, high school dropouts, and others with limited college experience prepare to continue higher ed pursuits or launch family-supporting careers.

“The goal is to highlight colleges that not only create supportive learning environments on campus, but that are committed to continuous improvement over time in improving student outcomes, particularly for the students who traditionally have the hardest time staying with and succeeding in their chosen educational programs,” says Jobs for the Future President and CEO Marlene Seltzer.

According to Jobs for the Future program director Dr. Judith Combes Taylor, JFF’s Early College High School Initiative, “which is closely connected to community colleges, sees community colleges as the gateway to higher education.”

Taylor adds though some students have been well prepared to enter four-year colleges by high schools, “For many, the two-year college is cheaper, it’s closer, it’s more accessible, it often feels more comfortable. So there are reasons that we work closely with community colleges for access for underserved, underrepresented, first-generation kids coming out of high school.”

Established in 1976, the MetLife Foundation has contributed more than $90 million to education programs that cultivate effective learning environments, including community colleges dedicated to lowering dropout rates, raising enrollment, and fostering the academic accomplishments of all students. For more information, visit the MetLife Foundation on the Web at For more information on Jobs for the Future, visit

–David Pluviose

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