Our Projects

Developing programs, practices and tools focused around achieving higher levels of student success. 

Tackling Transfer

The majority of community college students aim to earn a bachelor’s degree, but only 14% do so within six years of entry. Aspen is working with several national partners to research transfer outcomes and replicate institutional practices that result in strong outcomes for transfer students.

Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

For millions of Americans, community colleges provide an essential pathway to well-paying jobs and continuing higher education. The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence honors those institutions that strive for and achieve exceptional levels of success for all students, while they are in college and after they graduate. “[The Aspen Prize is] basically the Oscars for great community colleges.” President Barack Obama, 2015.

American Talent Initiative

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings colleges and universities together with the philanthropy and research communities in order to expand access and opportunity for talented low- and moderate-income students.

Siemens-Aspen Community College STEM Award

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has partnered with the Siemens Foundation to raise the profile of middle-skill jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and the excellent community college programs that deliver first-rate preparation of young adults for such jobs.

Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is preparing the next generation of community college presidents to lead institutions that achieve exceptional outcomes for students in learning, completion, post-transfer success and the labor market—and equity in those outcomes for students historically underserved in higher education. Over the course of a ten-month program including residential seminars, structured mentoring, and development of an analytic portfolio, fellows are given the opportunity to learn from and alongside each other about strategies for achieving exceptional student outcomes. The Fellowship was designed and is delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative.

Frontier Set

The Frontier Set is a diverse set of high-performing two-and four-year colleges, universities, and state systems, all committed to significantly increasing student access and success and eliminating racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in college attainment.

North Carolina Roadmap to Excellence

Supported by the John M. Belk Endowment, the Aspen Institute is engaged in a project designed to advance student success practice and leadership in the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS).

Future of the College Presidency

In light of enormous turnover of college presidents and senior leaders, a shrinking pool of candidates, and the need for better systems for preparing diverse and non-traditional candidates for the job, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, in 2015, convened the Task Force on the Future of the College Presidency. Thirty-five distinguished presidents from across four sectors of higher education—research universities, community colleges, regional public universities, and liberal arts colleges—spent 18 months identifying major issues facing colleges and their presidents and crafting near- and long-term recommendations.

Tools for Hiring Community College Presidents

This set of open-access hiring tools—including job announcement language, interview questions, and a candidate evaluation rubric—is designed to help boards of trustees, search committees, search consultants, and others hire presidents capable of leading community colleges to high and improving levels of student success.

Open Access Curriculum: Teaching the Practices of Excellent Community Colleges

With support from the Lumina Foundation, the Aspen CEP is working with leading practitioners and experts to develop a set of open-access curricular materials designed to help presidents, other leaders, and practitioners learn concrete strategies for reaching high and improving levels of student success in learning, completion/ transfer, labor market, and equitable outcomes.
  • Download research as well as practice guides and tools generated through our work.
    Our publications offer concrete examples, strategies, and tools aimed at helping colleges and their leaders improve student success in four areas: learning, completion, post-graduation employment, and equitable outcomes for underrepresented students.