Highline College in Des Moines and Green River College in Auburn were each recently selected as among the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.
The honor allows Highline and Green River to apply for prize funds totaling $1 million as part of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2023.
The award is considered the nation’s signature recognition for America’s community colleges. It honors colleges with outstanding achievement in teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.
“In reflecting on Highline College being one of the 150 colleges across the country eligible for the Aspen Prize, I immediately think of our students, the successes they enjoy and the challenges they face,” Highline College President John Mosby said. “I appreciate the commitment of our faculty and staff to be here to teach, serve and stand alongside our students.”
Green River’s main campus is in Auburn with branch campuses in Kent and Enumclaw.
“Green River College being named an ‘Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College’ is very exciting and a huge honor,” President Suzanne M. Johnson said. “I am very proud of the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff to meet students where they are, and provide inclusive, equitable access to the quality education and support services needed for them to reach their personal, education and career goals.”
Out of the 1,000-plus community colleges nationwide, the colleges Aspen selected were determined to have very good student outcomes, making them eligible for the prize.
“We are honored by this recognition but it is not the end,” Mosby said. “It serves as an incentive to continue our efforts to infuse equity into all aspects of our work, to provide clear degree pathways for an outstanding academic experience and to align our services to be available for students the first time they inquire about enrolling and still there when they walk across the commencement stage.”
Established in 2011, the Aspen Prize is awarded every two years. Ten finalists will be chosen with one winner receiving $600,000, and three finalists with distinction and one rising star each receiving $100,000.
Nine other Washington colleges are among the top 150, recognizing the state’s strong two-year system, including Bellingham Technical College, Clark College, Columbia Basin College, Pierce College District, Renton Technical College, South Puget Sound Community College, Wenatchee Valley College and Yakima Valley College.
The Aspen Prize is funded by the Joyce Foundation, the Siemens Foundation and the Kresge 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.