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Aspen Institute Puts EFSC in Running for Top National Prize

November 2, 2021 - Eastern Florida State College has been named one of 150 community colleges in the nation eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

The prestigious award, which will be given in 2023, is the nation’s top recognition for high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.

The institutions were selected based on these criteria:

Teaching and learning outcomes, graduation rates, Bachelor’s Degree attainment, students successfully finding employment, and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

The Aspen Institute has previously considered Eastern Florida for the prize chosen from more than 1,000 community colleges in the U.S.

Eastern Florida President Dr. Jim Richey said the college's nomination shows its commitment to high standards did not waver despite the difficult challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He cited the 86 new programs the college has launched since 2013 that are offering students excellent career choices in fields such as business, health care, computer technologies and other areas.

Richey also noted EFSC’s high graduation rates, not raising tuition 10 straight years, record minority enrollment and strong student support services as creating a winning combination.

“The commitment of our faculty and staff to students has always been outstanding, and their performance during the pandemic has been inspirational,” said Richey.

“The nomination shows again that EFSC is serving our Space Coast community and the state of Florida in an exemplary way.”

The Aspen Institute will trim the nominated colleges to 10 finalists in spring 2022 and then conduct site visits. A distinguished jury will make the award decision in spring 2023.

“In an era of persistent inequity and workforce talent gaps, our nation’s best community colleges are stepping up to deliver more degrees to increasingly diverse students so they are prepared for the good jobs waiting to be filled,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.

“Leaders of exceptional community colleges understand that achieving excellence requires expanding college access and increasing degree completion, but it doesn’t stop there.

“They are committed to ensuring that all students — including students of color and those from low-income backgrounds — graduate with the skills needed to secure a job with family-sustaining wages or successfully transfer to and graduate from a university.“

Since the Aspen Prize was started in 2010, three of the four winners have been part of the Florida College System of which EFSC is a member.

They are Indian River State in 2019, Santa Fe College in 2015, and Valencia College in 2011.