Our Projects

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

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.

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.

Siemens Technical Scholars Program

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.

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

Through support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Aspen is engaged in a project aimed at issuing recommendations to strengthen the college presidency across all sectors of higher education. Aspen has convened 36 college and university presidents to consider what changes are needed to enable future presidents to both strengthen and enable them to meet the essential public purpose of higher education.

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.

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.

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.