SFSC has been named one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. This is the fifth consecutive time SFSC has been part of such an honored group of colleges.

With a singular focus on student success, 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.

“The recognition from the Aspen Institute affirms that SFSC is a top-performing college due to quality learning initiatives led by a stellar faculty,” said Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel, SFSC president.  “Moreover, by looking deep into the data Aspen collects, SFSC far exceeds performance indicators in areas including graduation rates, number of credentials awarded, and overall student success.”

Every two years, 150 community colleges are named as eligible to compete for the prize and are selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Recognized institutions are located in urban, rural, and suburban areas and serve as few as 300 students and as many as 95,000 students. These colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector. This year, nearly 60 institutions are eligible to compete for the prize that were not eligible for the 2017 Aspen Prize. For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.

The Florida College System (FCS) as a whole is well represented. Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. was awarded the Aspen Prize in 2015, and Valencia College in Orlando, Fla. won the inaugural prize in 2011.

SFSC joins 13 other FCS institutions in the top 150 colleges eligible for the 2019 Aspen Prize. They are Broward College, Chipola College, Daytona State College, Eastern Florida State College, Florida Keys Community College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Indian River State College, Lake-Sumter State College, Miami Dade College, North Florida Community College, Northwest Florida State College, Palm Beach State College, and Tallahassee Community College. No more than one half of the community colleges in each state may appear in the final list of eligible institutions.

The top ten finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2018. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner, finalist(s) with distinction, and rising star(s) in spring 2019. To read more about the selection process, visit www.highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.

Higher education attainment has never been more important. Estimates from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce suggest that out of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, 11.5 million require at least some college education. The vast majority of students who enroll in community colleges do so because they believe that postsecondary education will provide them a path to rewarding work, stable employment, and family-sustaining wages.

The 2019 Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation and the Siemens Foundation.

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. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.