Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) is one of 10 finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.
Kentucky is one of only two states in the country with more than one prize finalist. Both Southeast, which campuses in Cumberland and Whitesburg, and West Kentucky Community College and Technical College in Paducah now enter the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in March in Washington, D.C., to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction. Last year, West Kentucky Community was honored as one of the top five finalists.
Selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges, the prize recognizes the most outstanding institutions for achievements in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree and college completion, labor market success in students securing jobs after college, and minority and low-income student success.
“Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College demonstrates that even community colleges facing tremendous barriers to student success can overcome them and excel,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The longstanding economic and social challenges of Appalachia are well-known. Through well-constructed support services and strong developmental education programs, SKCTC is helping students earn degrees and certificates that lead to living wage jobs.”
The median family income for the area served by SKCTC is $35,000 — 61% of the national median family income. The Aspen Institute says many Southeast students enter the school poorly prepared academically for college. As a result, the organization said, SKCTC’s faculty and staff tailor their efforts to the unique needs of their student population, offering small-group tutoring, reading and writing classes, and online student assistance.
According to the Aspen Institute, nearly half of all college students in the U.S. attend community college, with more than seven million students enrolled.
Other finalists include:
• Brazosport College, Lake Jackson, Texas
• Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
• College of the Ouachitas, Malvern, Ark.
• Kingsborough Community College – CUNY, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, S.D.
• Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, Calif.
• Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Fla.
• Walla Walla Community College, Walla Walla, Wash.
After a review process, a prize jury co-chaired by John Engler, president of The Business Roundtable and former Governor of Michigan, and Richard Riley, former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Secretary of Education, will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists-withdistinction to be announced in March 2013.
The winner of the inaugural Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence awarded in December 2011 was Valencia College in Orlando, which shared the $1 million prize fund with four finalists with distinction.
The Aspen Prize is funded by America Achieves, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Lumina Foundation for Education.