ECC named a semifinalist for $1 million 2023 Aspen Prize

  • Tags: Achievements
Published 04/27/2022
Aerial photo of Elgin Community College.

Aerial photo of Elgin Community College.


Elgin Community College is a semifinalist for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, joining an elite group of community colleges from across the country recognized for achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students.

“Today, we learned that Elgin Community College is now one of only 25 colleges in the nation eligible for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence,” said President David Sam, PhD, JD, LLM. “This recognition results from the dedication that permeates all areas of the college to dismantle barriers, expand access, and improve student success. We are incredibly proud and humbled by this recognition and will continue to serve the diverse needs of our students with excellence in the classroom and beyond.”

The $1 million Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students. In years past, only 10 finalists have been named on the road to the winner, and this change is designed to highlight the increased number of colleges across the country doing excellent work.

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2023.

The Prize selection process began this past October, when the Aspen Institute invited 150 community colleges to apply, based on data showing strong and improving student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Applications went to a diverse selection committee of 16 higher education experts who reviewed extensive data and application narratives. Next, the committee will review interviews with leadership teams and narrow this selection of 25 semifinalists to 10 finalists, to be announced in early June 2022.

After 10 finalists are announced, next steps include:

  • Fall 2022: Multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists, when teams of experts collect even more student outcomes data and gather insights about effective practices
  • Winter of 2023: A distinguished jury decides who wins the Aspen Prize, based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the 10 finalists
  • Late spring 2023: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner

For more about the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, including the list of the 25 semifinalists, visit https://highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize/.