Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

Congratulations to the 25 semifinalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize!

The $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition for America’s community colleges—as President Obama called it, “basically the Oscars for great community colleges.” The Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding achievement in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Prize aims to celebrate excellence, advance a focus on equitable student success, and stimulate replication of effective culture and practice. 
This year we are adding a milestone: announcing 25 semifinalists before narrowing to 10 finalists. We are thrilled to see meaningful, measurable progress being made across the community college sector, and this extra step is designed to highlight the increased number of colleges doing excellent work from which others can learn. See the list of semifinalists via the button below.
The Prize selection process for this cycle began in October 2021, when the Aspen Institute invited 150 community colleges to apply, based on data showing strong and improving student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Read more about the data model and see the list of 150 eligible colleges below.
The Aspen Prize Process: A Tool for Community College Improvement
In this short video 2021 Aspen Prize winners and finalists share their perspective on how the application and review process helped their colleges reflect on what they’re doing well and where they need to improve to better serve their students.

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For any questions about the 2023 Aspen Prize application process, please contact Rebecca Lavinson, Senior Program Associate:

Past Winners and Finalists

Selection Process


The 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
Aspen Prize Colleges: Well-Equipped When Crisis Hits
The Colleges We Need Now: The 2021 Aspen Prize Finalists
The 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
2019 Aspen Prize: Place and Purpose Matter
Chronicle of Higher Ed: Aspen Prize Is Awarded to 2 Florida Colleges
The 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
The 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
The 2011 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence
The Aspen Prize is made possible by generous support from Ascendium and the Joyce Foundation.
Contact us for more information.
Ben Barrett, Program Manager