Aspen Institute Names Three Alamo Colleges as Top 150 U.S. Community Colleges

November 5, 2019

Aspen Top 150

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named San Antonio College, Palo Alto College and Northwest Vista College, three of the colleges of the Alamo Colleges District, to the list of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

Based on strong and improving student outcomes—including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity—15 percent of community colleges nationwide have been invited to apply for the Aspen Prize. 

“The Board is pleased and proud to see three of the Alamo College District’s colleges honored for their excellence at the national level,” said Alamo Colleges District Board Chair Marcelo Casillas. “Congratulations to the colleges who continually strive to be the best in student success and performance excellence,” he added. 

“This is a well-deserved national recognition for our colleges, and we are proud to have three of them receive such an honor twice in a row,” said Alamo Colleges District Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores. “I congratulate the college presidents, faculty and staff who model excellence every day to ensure that our students achieve the success that will lead to economic and social mobility for themselves and their families,” he added.

All three Alamo Colleges District colleges also were named to the list for the 2019 Aspen Prize, which is awarded every two years. Palo Alto College was a finalist for the 2019 Aspen Prize and was recognized for their strong record of improvement with the Rising Star award, receiving $100,000. 

The 150 community colleges named today as eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide using publicly available data on student outcomes. Located in 39 states in urban, rural, and suburban areas, serving as few as 500 students and as many as 75,000 students, these colleges represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector. 

Data show that over the last two years, student retention, graduation rates, and degree completion have improved at the top tier of 150 Aspen Prize-eligible colleges.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students—through graduation and beyond.”

The top ten finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. 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 jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are: Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; Valencia College (FL), 2011.


For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit