$1 Million Prize Recognizes Excellence
in Equitable Outcomes for Students In and After College
(Santa Ana, CA) - The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named Santa Ana College (SAC) and Santiago Canyon College (SCC) as two 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 in student outcomes - including in learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity.
“Only 15 percent of community colleges nationwide are invited to apply for the Aspen Prize, and to have both of our Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) colleges receive an invitation to apply for this award is an incredible honor,” said RSCCD Chancellor Marvin Martinez. “We are committed to increasing student successes at both colleges and will continue to adapt environments to create equitable access for all students.”
The 150 community colleges named 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.
For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit
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The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.
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 students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit
www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered and follow
@AspenHigherEd on Twitter.
The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit
About Rancho Santiago Community College District
Santa Ana College and
Santiago Canyon College are public community colleges of the Rancho Santiago Community College District, which serves the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Santa Ana, Villa Park, and portions of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, and Tustin. Both colleges provide education for academic transfer and careers, courses for personal and professional development, and customized training for business and industry.