"Rising Star" invited to apply for 2021 Aspen Prize

November 5, 2019

Public Relations

After being named a "Rising Star" by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, Palo Alto College has already been named to the list of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The $1 million Prize is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program announced in April 2019 that Palo Alto College was a "Rising Star" award winner of the 2019 Aspen Prize, one of the top five community colleges in the nation.

"Representing the Alamo Colleges District and community colleges across the nation at this level is an honor for each one of us at Palo Alto College, and this achievement would not have been possible without our faculty and staff's commitment to the journey and the support of our entire community, including the leadership of the Alamo Colleges District," said Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College. "Whether students are the first in their family to attend college or looking to continue their education, Palo Alto College has always believed that education should be accessible to everyone. And by keeping our students first and being one of the best in the nation, we will continue to be a place where our community and students can achieve their dreams and aspirations for a better life."

Northwest Vista College and San Antonio College, part of the Alamo Colleges District, were also named among the top 150 and will be eligible to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize. From a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide, the top 150 were selected based on evaluation of publicly available data on student outcomes.

With a singular focus on student success, the Aspen Prize assesses institutional performance in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, success after graduation in the labor market and in transfer to four-year institutions, and equity in access and success for students of color and low-income students.

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.


The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org.

The program is part of the Aspen Institute, which 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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"Palo Alto College named "Rising Star" by national Aspen Prize" - Palo Alto College, April 2, 2019