LANCASTER — Antelope Valley College was one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize or Community College Excellence, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced Monday.

The Aspen Prize, which is awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. The award is based on strong and improving student outcomes in areas such as learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings and equity. Only 15% of community colleges, nationwide, were invited to apply for the Aspen Prize.

“Antelope Valley College is proud to be selected for this prestigious honor and to be recognized as a top community college in the nation as it relates to our efforts surrounding student outcomes,” AV College President Ed Knudson said in a statement. “We are focused on the success of our students and community first and foremost, and are thankful for the recognition and opportunity to apply for the $1

million prize.”

AV College and the other 149 community colleges 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 shows 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,” Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, said in a statement. “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 10 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.

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