ATD Network Colleges Among Institutions Eligible for 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence 

We’re proud to see a number of colleges in the ATD Network listed among the 150 community colleges eligible for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Earlier in 2019, Achieving the Dream celebrated two of our Network colleges, Indian River State College and Miami Dade College, who were named the co-winners of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Among the more than 1,000 eligible public community colleges in 2019, ten finalists were chosen for the award. Of these ten finalists, eight were Achieving the Dream Network colleges. 

The 2021 eligible colleges include ATD Leah Meyer Austin Award winners from 2018 and 2019, Odessa College and Amarillo College. Odessa College was recognized for significant innovations resulting in progress in metrics such as decreasing course drop rates, increasing student persistence, and increasing degree completion. The college nearly doubled its three-year graduation rate, and more than doubled the graduation rate for key populations. Similar to Odessa College, Amarillo College nearly doubled its three-year graduation rate over four years. Three-year graduation rates for Black students increased fivefold, from 4 percent to 20 percent, and for Hispanic students rates moved from 15 percent to 22 percent. All student groups are now graduating at similar rates.

Achieving the Dream’s Leader College status recognizes colleges that have achieved and sustained significant improvements in student outcomes, and Leader College of Distinction status is conferred for achieving higher student outcomes and narrowing equity gaps. Ten Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges and three Leader Colleges of Distinction are among the 150 eligible for the 2021 Aspen Prize. 

ATD colleges have made up a noteworthy portion of Aspen Prize finalists, finalists with distinction, and Rising Stars since the Prize competition began. Past ATD Network winners include Valencia College (FL) in 2011 and Walla Walla College (WA) in 2013, along with Indian River State College and Miami Dade College in 2019. Since 2011, 21 current and former ATD institutions have been named finalists, five have been named finalists with distinction, and four have been named Rising Stars.

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