This article originally appeared at Community College Daily.
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named the 150 U.S. community colleges eligible to compete for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds.
The honor, awarded every two years, is noted for recognizing high achievement and performance among community colleges. It focuses on exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and access and success for minority and low-income students.
“There are exceptional community colleges across our country providing students with a high-quality, affordable education that leads to good careers and strong economic opportunity,” Josh Wyner, executive director of the program, said in a press release announcing the eligible colleges. “Through this competition, we’re working to inspire community colleges and help them understand how to ensure that more students succeed.”
Jump in California
The selected colleges are located in 35 states in urban, rural and suburban areas, serving as few as 300 students and as many as 60,000 students. Ten finalists will be announced this fall.
This year, California saw the largest increase among states in the number of colleges eligible for the prize — tripling from seven to 21 since the last competition cycle in 2015. Most states saw only small changes in the number of eligible institutions.
The previous winners — Santa Barbara City College (California), Santa Fe College (Florida), Valencia College (Florida) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington) — are not eligible to participate.
Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.
For the first time, the selected institutions are also invited to nominate exceptional students enrolled in their best middle-skill STEM programs for scholarships. Up to 50 Siemens Technical Scholars will be selected from programs that provide outstanding preparation for high-demand jobs in manufacturing, energy, healthcare and information technology.
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