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The Aspen Institute Names Semifinalists for Prestigious 2025 Aspen Prize

-Editorial

The Aspen Institute named 20 semifinalists for the 2025 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million award is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges. The institutions selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success, as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds.

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding performance in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, broad access to the college and its offerings, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2025.

Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, congratulated the semifinalists. “Each of these colleges has demonstrated a sustained commitment to moving beyond enrollment and retention as the markers of student success to defining their success by whether the education they provide changes lives,” Wyner said.  “These colleges understand that enrollment and graduation matter most when tied tightly to post-graduation success in transferring for a bachelor’s degree and in securing fulfilling, good-paying jobs and careers.”

The semifinalists are:

  • Broward College
  • Georgia Highlands College
  • Kingsborough Community College
  • MiraCosta College
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
  • Moorpark College
  • North Iowa Area Community College
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
  • Northwest Iowa Community College
  • Northwest Vista College
  • San Jacinto College
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • South Puget Sound Community College
  • Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
  • State Technical College of Missouri
  • Trinidad State College
  • Union College of Union County, NJ
  • Wallace State Community College-Hanceville
  • Western Technical College
  • William Rainey Harper College

The Aspen Prize selection process began in October 2023, when Aspen invited 150 community colleges to apply based on data showing strong, improving, and equitable student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, and transfer. The 118 submitted applications went to a diverse selection committee of 18 higher education experts who assessed each application based on extensive data and narrative answers to questions. Following interviews with leadership teams from applicants receiving top scores, 20 semifinalists were selected. In the coming weeks, the committee will continue its review and meet to narrow the field to 10 finalists, to be announced in June 2024.

After the 10 finalists are announced, next steps in the process include:

  • Fall 2024: Multi-day in-person site visits to each of the 10 finalists, during which Aspen and partners will collect additional information and additional data collection, including extensive employment and earnings data on graduates from the finalist colleges
  • Winter 2025: A distinguished, independent Prize jury will review data and qualitative summaries that synthesize each part of the 14-month analyses and then meet for a full day to select the winner and others for additional recognition
  • Spring 2025: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner and celebration of the 10 finalists in Washington DC

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