Five Out of Ten Finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Hail From the Achieving the Dream Network

$1Million Prize for Excellence in Four Areas: Learning, Degree Completion, Graduates’ Employment and Earning, and Success for Minority and Low-Income Students

Media Contact:
Lauren Lewis, (917) 613-6419,


Silver Spring, MD (September 4, 2014) – Achieving the Dream President and CEO Bill Trueheart today congratulated the 10 finalists for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a national award conferred biannually by the Aspen Institute for ensuring outstanding student achievement in their community colleges. The Prize recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges. With a singular focus on student success, the Prize assesses community colleges’ achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

“The Aspen Prize recognizes the critical contribution community colleges make to our nation as well as the extraordinary commitment and effort that individual colleges invest every day to change millions of students’ lives," said Trueheart. “I’m very proud of all of the finalists but am especially proud of the Achieving the Dream Colleges for their courage, diligence, and unrelenting commitment to student success and equity. Achieving the Dream Colleges are working to improve pedagogy and restructure curricula across the student experience to increase student outcomes significantly.”

“It should come as no surprise that Achieving the Dream Colleges are well-represented on this year’s list of finalists institutions for the Aspen Prize,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Achieving the Dream has created a robust community of institutions and leaders who are committed to ensuring student success even for those who are traditionally underserved. The rapid improvement we are seeing at many of these finalists colleges serves as a testimony to Achieving the Dream’s work.”

Five of the 10 Aspen Prize Finalists are part of the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, comprised of more than 200 institutions dedicated to the hard work of fundamental transformation to improve their students’ learning outcomes.

The five Achieving the Dream Colleges that are Aspen Prize Finalists are:

Achieving the Dream and the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program are partners in several initiatives designed to strengthen community colleges’ institutional effectiveness and increase and accelerate student achievement. The organizations collaborated to produce Crisis and Opportunity: Aligning the Community College Presidency with Student Success, the culmination of research into the impending wave of retirements among current community college presidents.

“The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program is an outstanding partner in the critical work of strengthening community colleges,” said Dr. Trueheart. “Too few citizens know that nearly one half of all students attending higher education institutions in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges. And too few know that these institutions are doing remarkable work to close achievement gaps and keep students on pathways to completion, strong careers, earning living wages, and becoming productive citizens.”

The Aspen Prize is funded by Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

The full list of 2015 Aspen Prize Finalists:

Brazosport College
Lake Jackson, TX
Lake Area Technical Institute
Watertown, SD
El Paso Community College
El Paso, TX
Olympic College
Bremerton, WA
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, CUNY
Bronx, NY
Renton Technical College
Renton, WA
Indian River State College
Fort Pierce, FL
Santa Fe College
Gainesville, FL
Kennedy-King College
Chicago, IL
West Kentucky Community and Technical College
Paducah, KY


Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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