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The finalists also represent the impressive diversity of community colleges, from a 2,700-student college in Iowa granting primarily technical awards to a 57,000-student college in Florida with a focus on transfer and bachelor's degree attainment. No matter their size or location, excellent community colleges, like Imperial Valley College, are defined by their focus on outcomes and how they develop the talents of their students in ways that strengthen their regional economies and communities.
"It is such an honor to be recognized as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation," Said Lennor Johnson, Superintendent/President of Imperial Valley College, "it says a lot about the commitment to excellence that we collectively have. We are committed to transforming our community for the better, and this award, which is considered the Oscar's for community colleges, says we are doing just that, making a difference with strong completion and transfer rates and outstanding employment outcomes."  
Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges that show outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor's attainment, workforce success, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2023.
"We have been recognized as one of the top 10 community colleges in the nation. What an amazing honor for our entire Imperial Valley College Community!" Said, Karla Sigmond, Imperial Valley College Board President, "This is the culmination of years of hard work and a strong commitment by our college in providing excellent and equitable opportunities in education to our students thus providing them with the tools necessary to thrive in our communities and in our ever-changing world. Thank you to all for making this Aspen Excellence in Education honor possible!"
"We're grateful to all the experts who have helped Aspen identify these impressive colleges," said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. "We can't wait to dive in to learn more about how they have achieved these measurable student outcomes so we can share what we learn with the field."
See the full list of finalists here:
The finalists are:
· Amarillo College, TX
· Broward College, FL
· Hostos Community College (CUNY), NY
· Imperial Valley College, CA
· Kingsborough Community College (CUNY), NY
· Moorpark College, CA
· Northwest Iowa Community College, IA
· San Jacinto College, TX
· South Puget Sound Community College, WA
· Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, WI
The Aspen Prize selection process began in October 2021, when the Aspen Institute worked with an expert data panel to craft a formula to assess student outcomes at nearly 1,000 community colleges in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Based on those data, we invited 150 top community colleges to apply, and received 109 applications. A selection committee of 16 higher education experts reviewed applications, including extensive data and narratives on student success strategies. From the 25 highest ranking colleges, announced as semifinalists in April, the committee met in May to choose the 10 Aspen Prize finalists.
Next steps include:
· Fall 2022: Additional data gathered on student outcomes, including in employment after college; multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists to gather insights about effective practices
 · Winter of 2023: A distinguished jury decides the Aspen Prize winner, based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the 10 finalists.
 · Late spring 2023: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner
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The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan, and the Kresge Foundation. Previous winners are:
· 2021: San Antonio College (TX)
· 2019: Indian River State College (FL) and Miami Dade College (FL)
· 2017: Lake Area Technical Institute (SD)
· 2015: Santa Fe College (FL)
· 2013: Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA)
· 2011: Valencia College (FL)
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org and www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered, and follow @AspenHigherEd on
Twitter. The Aspen Prize hashtag is #AspenPrize.
The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world's greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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