Elgin Community College is one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. ECC was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public, two-year colleges nationwide to compete for the 2021 prize.
“It is an honor to once again be listed among the top 150 colleges in the United States,” said David Sam, JD, PhD, LLM, president of Elgin Community College. “This recognition is the result of an exceptional team of faculty, staff, and administrators supported by the District 509 Board of Trustees. It is a privilege to help students achieve their dreams, and this acknowledgment is only one of the many outcomes of our efforts and successes.”
Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize recognizes institutions with outstanding achievements in four areas: learning; certificate and degree completion; employment and earnings; and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students. Data shows that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges. This year marks the third consecutive time ECC is on the prize-eligible list.
ECC now moves to the second round of the competition, which includes submitting an application and undergoing a rigorous evaluation to earn a spot on the Aspen Prize finalists list. The top ten finalists will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalists with distinction, and rising stars in spring 2021.
“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.