After months of research and evaluation, a jury of high-profile national postsecondary education, civil rights and industry leaders have chosen the winner of the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Prize honors community colleges with outstanding achievement in teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, successful transfer to four-year institutions, workforce success and equitable outcomes for learners of color and learners from low-income backgrounds.
San Antonio College, one of five colleges in the Alamo Colleges District in Texas, was announced as the winner of the Aspen Prize during a virtual ceremony on May 18. Along with earning the title of 2021 Aspen Prize Winner, San Antonio College also receives a $600,000 prize for the culture of care their college leaders, advisors, faculty and staff continuously extend to each and every student to ensure they are setting their students up for success. Their policies and practices will be highlighted, along with other finalists, throughout a suite of tools and resources that will be developed from the rigorous research process performed to determine the winner of the biennial Aspen Prize. These resources are slated for release in Fall 2021 and will coincide with a convening of leaders, including those featured in the research.
Finalists with Distinction included Broward College (FL), San Jacinto College (TX) and West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY). The Rising Star award was presented to Amarillo College (TX). The five remaining finalists for the Aspen Prize were Borough of Manhattan Community College (NY), Odessa College (TX), Pasadena City College (CA), Pierce College (WA) and Tallahassee Community College (FL).
Funders of the 2021 Aspen Prize include Ascendium, Joyce Foundation and Siemens Foundation.
“Ascendium’s philanthropy is focused on elevating opportunity for learners from low-income backgrounds,” said Amy Kerwin, vice president of education philanthropy at Ascendium. “The colleges celebrated today have created an environment for these students to not only complete their degrees, but to successfully transfer to four-year institutions or transition to careers that provide family sustaining wages.”
Congratulations to San Antonio College and the nine Aspen Prize finalists for their great work.
Ascendium and other partners benefit from being part of a project that celebrates community colleges that excel in advancing student success, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds. The project brings research and resources on college best practices to the forefront to inform future investments for learners and institutions. Ascendium’s interest in supporting the prize and Aspen’s work in this space highlights our commitment to learning more about college excellence, utilizing the resources and tools that emerge from the prize awarding to amplify that effort.