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.
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.
Through the Aspen Presidential Fellowship, curricular resources, hiring tools for boards of trustees, and partnerships with state education agencies, Aspen is developing a diverse cadre of change-makers equipped to lead significant, equitable improvements in student success at their colleges.
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.
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.
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.
What colleges do to ensure that their graduates find labor market success matters. Out of the 11.6M jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5M require at least some education beyond high school. Aspen is researching how community colleges can drive both talent development and economic mobility in their regions.
Students are more likely to complete a degree on time if they have a clear academic road map and receive strong support to help them get on a path early in their college careers and stay on the path through graduation. The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program is a partner in the American Association of Community Colleges Pathways Project, a collaborative effort to help community colleges design and implement structured academic and career pathways at scale for all students.
- 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.