January 30, 2014
The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program has named Northampton Community College as one of the nation's top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million in prize funds.
Awarded every two years, the prize is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
Colleges are selected to compete from a national pool of more than 1000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data. The 150 institutions with the highest ranking are invited to submit an application to demonstrate that they deliver exceptional results for all students -including those from racial minority and/or low-income backgrounds - and that they use data to continually improve.
The prize is funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Lumina Foundation.
Ten finalists will be named in the fall. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to those ten colleges prior to announcing a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.
"We are very pleased and grateful for this invitation," said Northampton's president, Dr. Mark Erickson. "It is one of the highest honors a community college can receive and a tribute to the work our faculty and staff have been doing over a number of years to ensure that students not only enroll in college, but persist. We're proud of the progress we have made, but we know we can do even better. The nomination will inspire us to do just that."
This is not the first national recognition that Northampton has received for its success in helping students attain their goals. In 2010 and again in 2013 the College was named a "Leader College" in "Achieving the Dream," an educational reform movement that shares many of the same goals as the Aspen College Excellence Program.
Josh Wyner, the executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, says the prize competition "is designed to spotlight the excellent work being done in the most effective community colleges....We hope it will raise the bar and provide a roadmap for community colleges nationwide."
Northampton Community College and Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster are the only two colleges in Pennsylvania invited to compete for the 2015 prize.
The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges' and policy-makers' understanding of what is needed to teach and graduate post-secondary students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org/cep.
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit aspeninstitute.org.
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