$1 Million Prize Recognizes Excellence and Equitable Outcomes for College Students
The Aspen Institute has again named Moorpark, Oxnard, and Ventura colleges among the 150 institutions eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among two-year colleges. The institutions selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds.
The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence spotlights exemplary community colleges in order to research highly effective student success strategies shared with the field while also driving attention to colleges achieving post-graduate success for all students. Nationwide, about 15 percent of community colleges have been invited to apply (150 of just under 1,000 public two-year colleges assessed for Prize eligibility), an honor also extended to all three Ventura County community colleges for the 2023-2025 prize.
In the 2021-2023 award cycle, Oxnard College, Moorpark College, and Ventura College were named among the top 150 colleges eligible for the prize. Moorpark College advanced to the top 10 finalists, ultimately placing fourth in the nation for the 2023 Community College Excellence Prize.
Following the announcement of being named eligible for the prize, the VCCCD board and college presidents expressed their appreciation of the honor:
“The eligibility of all three of our colleges for the Aspen Prize again highlights the consistent quality of our education, the dedication of our faculty, staff, and administrators, and the achievements of our students,” said Board Chair Bernardo Perez. “We celebrate this milestone and remain committed to advancing the standards of community college education for the benefit of our community.”
“This recognition is about more than just prestige or accomplishment,” said Dr. Julius Sokenu, President of Moorpark College. “It’s evidence of the incredible work our dedicated faculty, staff, and administrators are doing to uplift our community. Moorpark College strives to expand opportunities for anyone who wishes to unlock their potential through education and career training, supplying the resources and support they need to build a successful future and provide for their family. Placing fourth in the nation for the 2021-2023 Aspen Prize was an incredible honor, and being nominated again this year feels even more momentous, as it signifies our continued growth and strength in ensuring our students’ success.”
“Oxnard College is proud to rank among the Aspen Institute’s Top 150 community colleges nationwide for the second time in a row,” shared Dr. Oscar Cobian, interim president of Oxnard College. “We are grateful to the Aspen Institute for recognizing the impactful work we are doing in Oxnard and Ventura County to help students achieve their academic and career goals. This is a testament to Oxnard College’s many talented public servants who are helping drive generational and transformational change in our community.”
"I am profoundly honored that Ventura College has been chosen to submit for the esteemed Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for the second consecutive year. Our dedicated faculty and professional staff have exhibited an unwavering commitment to improving educational outcomes for our students, as exemplified by their relentless efforts to expand student access and support services including basic needs-food, future housing, mental health services, and more. We are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to highlight our hard work for the prize's consideration." said Kim Hoffmans, President of Ventura College.
The 150 eligible colleges have been invited to submit student success data and narratives about strategies to achieve better and more equitable student outcomes as the next step in an intensive review process that culminates in the naming of the Aspen Prize winner in spring 2025.
The next steps in the process include:
- April 2024: Announcement of 25 semifinalists, selected based on assessments of extensive data and strategy documents by the Prize selection panel, a group of 16 experts in community colleges, higher education, and workforce training, and interviews with institutional leadership teams
- June 2024: Announcement of 10 finalists, selected by the Prize selection panel
- Fall 2024: Site visits to each of the ten finalists, during which the Aspen Institute and partners will collect additional information, including employment and earnings data and insights about promising practices
- January 2025: Prize award decisions made by distinguished, independent Prize jury at full-day meeting
- Spring 2025: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner and celebration of the 10 finalists in Washington DC
For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize.