Arizona Western College has recently been selected as one of 150 (out of 1,000) community colleges nationwide determined to be eligible to apply for a $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The prize, awarded every two years, is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas -- student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
By focusing on student success and lifting up models that work, the Aspen Prize honors excellence, stimulates innovation and creates benchmarks for measuring progress. The prize aims to:
- Honor Excellence by shining a spotlight on outstanding community colleges that deliver exceptional results in student completion, learning, and workforce success, both in terms of absolute performance and improvements.
- Stimulate Innovation by identifying exemplars, documenting successful practices and creating opportunities to learn from them, generating momentum for reform-minded educators, legislators, employers and community college presidents across the nation.
- Clearly Define Success by contributing to the development of high-quality, consistent measures and benchmarks for assessing community college outcomes so that colleges, prospective students and businesses can get a clear sense of how effective institutions are helping students -- including the most disadvantaged -- to learn, graduate and secure good jobs.
With a large prize purse and the Aspen Institute's unique ability to elevate issues on the public agenda, this prize represents an important opportunity to accelerate transformation in community colleges.
Below are some comments from District Governing Board members regarding this recognition. Congratulations to Arizona Western College, and thank you all for your efforts.
From Board member Olivia Zepeda: "This is fantastic news -- an honor for our college and staff! Congratulations to ALL."
From Board member JoAnne Ehasz: "What an honor and testament to the hard work and planning that the administration has been doing, and a testament to the dedication of the staff of AWC."