Broward College and Indian River State College have been honored as Finalists with Distinction for the prestigious 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges for exemplary 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. The $1 million prize fund was established in 2011 and is awarded every two years to the winner and up to four finalists.

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in South Dakota was named the winner of the 2017 Aspen Prize and received $600,000 in funds. Meanwhile, Broward College and Indian River State College — along with Odessa College and San Jacinto College in Texas, which were cited as “Rising Stars” for their strong record of improvement — each received $100,000 in prize funds.

The five prize recipients were selected from a list of 10 finalists announced in September. Those finalists were chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges throughout the U.S.

“LATI and all the prize finalists offer lessons for community colleges across the nation — large and small, rural and urban — on how to improve student success,” said Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, in a press release. “In the end, the prize-winning colleges provide a blueprint for student-centered reform.”

“I am incredibly proud that out of nearly 1,000 colleges throughout the country, two of our Florida Colleges have once again been recognized as national leaders for access, affordability and student success,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart in a press release. “This esteemed award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Broward College and Indian River State College students, as well as the faculty and leadership, who have clearly made students their top priority.”

Broward College in Fort Lauderdale has an enrollment of 63,000 and was lauded for its highly diverse student population (about 66% are underrepresented minorities), which attains bachelor’s degrees at a rate that is 50% higher than the national average. The school was also recognized for its three-year graduation/transfer rates among its underrepresented minorities (46%), which trails performance for all students by only one percent (47%).

Indian River State College in Fort Pierce has an enrollment of 24,000 and ranks as the third most affordable college in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Additionally, the school has strong three-year graduation/transfer rates for all students (49% at Indian River, compared to 39% nationally) along with its underrepresented minorities (43% at Indian River, 34% nationally).

For more information about the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and all of this year’s recipients and finalists, click here.


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