Aspen Institute, Others Launch $1 Million Prize for Community College Excellence

The Aspen Institute has announced the launch of a $1 million competition to recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes.

Supported in part by the Lumina, Joyce, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America Charitable foundations and designed in cooperation with senior officials from the Obama administration, the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence will be awarded annually beginning next fall to community colleges that deliver exceptional results in student completion rates and workforce success.

The competition is designed to change the public's perception of community colleges; spur innovation; galvanize collaboration; and contribute to the development of high-quality, consistent measures and benchmarks for assessing community college outcomes so prospective students and businesses can get a clear sense of how effective schools are in helping students learn, graduate, and advance in their careers. Over the coming year, the Aspen Institute will convene leading researchers and community college leaders to help design and administer the competition, with an emphasis on making the competition fair, inclusive, and comprehensive.

According to labor economists at Georgetown University, the U.S. faces a shortfall of at least three million college-educated workers and at least 4.7 million workers with postsecondary certificates by 2018.

"The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence is designed to change the way community colleges are understood by raising up effective leaders and highlighting excellent performance," said Aspen Institute president and CEO Walter Isaacson. "If the nation is to meet President Obama's challenge to increase the number of college graduates, we must recognize and support best practices."

"New $1,000,000 Aspen Prize to Reward Community College Excellence." Aspen Institute Press Release 10/05/2010.