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The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Pasadena City College is one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges.

This is Pasadena City College’s third time as an Aspen Prize finalist. The college is the sole nominee in the state of California this year.

The 10 Aspen Prize finalists were selected from the nation’s 1,000 community colleges in a process that included qualitative and quantitative data analysis and engaged more than 30 experts in the field. These finalists all effectively identify, develop, and scale strategies to propel all students to not just complete college but also succeed after graduation.

“Pasadena City College’s faculty, staff, and leaders are committed to understanding their diverse student body and innovating to meet their needs,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “They consistently work to understand the student experience and identify student challenges and then advance effective practices for the benefit of all students.”

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions that achieve strong student outcomes across four key areas:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Degree completion and successful transfer to four-year institutions
  • Success in the workforce
  • Equitable outcomes for diverse student groups

“The Aspen Prize finalists define what it means to be an excellent community college,” said Wyner. “By organizing everything they do around student success, these colleges stand at the forefront of national efforts to develop the talents of diverse students that we need to strengthen our nation’s economic future.”

“Events this spring have given us stark reminders of how important it is to equitably serve our students,” said Erika Endrijonas, Ph.D., superintendent/president of Pasadena City College. “We have consistently approached our students as individuals in need of individual support, and done all we can to innovate and explore new ways to help them succeed. This Aspen Prize nomination – our third – is further evidence that the work of our students, faculty, and staff is making a difference.”

What community colleges do has a significant impact on our nation’s ability to develop diverse talent and promote social mobility, given that they enroll 6 million students—about 40 percent of all U.S. undergraduates—and disproportionately serve low-income and minority students.

For the rest of 2020, the Aspen Institute will work with a team of national experts to complete a rigorous review process to determine the eventual winner of the prize. This encompasses a comprehensive examination of outcomes data as well as multi-day virtual site visits to each of the 10 finalist institutions.

In early 2021, a distinguished jury will convene to select the prize winner, finalists with distinction, and a rising star and allocate a $1 million award among them. The winner will be announced at a May 2021 event in Washington, D.C.

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium Education Group, Joyce Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

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