Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

In May 2018, Palo Alto College was named one of 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges. Palo Alto College is one of three colleges in Texas to make the top 10 list and is one of three first-time finalists for the 2019 award.

What is the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence?

Awarded every two years since 2011, the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence recognizes institutions that achieve high and improving student outcomes, selected from over 1,000 community colleges nationwide. Focused solely on student access and success, the Aspen Prize recognizes community colleges with exceptional achievements in four areas: student learning; certificate and degree completion while in community college and after transferring to a four-year institution; employment and earnings rates after graduation; and access for and success of minority and limited-income students.

The $1 million prize will be awarded at an event in April 2019 in Washington, D.C. and shared with the winner, two or three finalists-with-distinction, and a “Rising Star” that has achieved exceptional levels of improvement. Between now and then, Aspen will work with a team of national experts to collect extensive, additional data and conduct multi-day site visits to the 10 finalists.

Why did we apply?

As part of Palo Alto College’s journey to performance excellence, we have pursued opportunities like the Texas Award for Performance Excellence and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award as an effort to maintain our organizational strengths and opportunities for improvement. As one of only 15 in the Texas named to the top 150 community colleges eligible for the Aspen Prize, Palo Alto College moved forward to the next round of the competition by submitting an application in November 2017. The application was reviewed through a rigorous evaluation for our spot on the top 10 Aspen Prize finalists list.

When Palo Alto College was named one of the top 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize, Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, stated, “Palo Alto College has made faster gains in graduation rates than virtually any community college Aspen has analyzed since the Prize began. The College has developed strong advising systems, created clear program pathways, and reformed math education in ways that translate into incredible gains in student success. Many of these reforms and student success gains have taken hold across the impressive Alamo system, of which Palo Alto College is part, proving that concerted efforts can lead to dramatic gains in student success across multiple colleges.”

Aspen Prize Application

Site Visit and Four Areas of Exceptional Performance

A panel of experts from The Aspen Institute will visit Palo Alto College on Oct. 30-31, 2018, for an intensive review of our process and commitment to keeping students first. The following are the four achievement areas that will be explored during the site visit.

Aspen Institute’s Four Areas of Student Success Palo Alto College’s Exceptional Achievement Areas
Learning Student Learning
Completion Certificate/Degree Completion and Transfer
Labor Market Employment and Earnings after Gradaution
Equity Success for Minority and Limited-Income Students

  

Highlighted Initiatives at Palo Alto College

Learning Communities: Catch The Next-Ascender

Learning Communities: Catch The Next-Ascender

This learning community for underserved first-time-in-college students (FTICs) combines a rigorous literacy-based and culturally relevant curriculum across disciplines, individualized advising and personal counseling, leadership development, and community outreach.

Join us for a Celebrate and Share PAC Excellence Breakfast!
Friday, Sept. 28 | 9-10 a.m. | Legacy Room (Ozuna 101)

Developmental Education: Mathematics Redesign

Developmental Education: Mathematics Redesign

Palo Alto College’s restructured developmental mathematics sequence created well-defined, accelerated pathways to and through College Algebra, aiming to increase the number of students who complete the entry math course within their first year.

Join us for a Celebrate and Share PAC Excellence Breakfast!
Friday, Sept. 28 | 9-10 a.m. | Legacy Room (Ozuna 101)

Partnerships: Early College High School & Dual Credit

Partnerships: Early College High School & Dual Credit

Through the College’s dual credit and Early College High School (ECHS) programs, approximately 3,000 local high school students in limited-income and primarily Hispanic communities are earning college credit while completing requirements for their high school diploma each year.

Join us for a Celebrate and Share PAC Excellence Breakfast!
Friday, Oct. 5 | 9-10 a.m. | Legacy Room (Ozuna 101)

Student Resource Initiative: Advocacy

Student Resource Initiative: Advocacy

The S.H.A.R.E. (Student Health, Advocacy, Resource and Engagement) Center addresses the challenges our students face by providing a central on-campus location that offers in-demand services like a clothes closet, food pantry, financial wellness, health screenings, and referrals to additional supportive services. The Center’s donor-funded emergency aid program also provides short-term financial assistance that allows students to stay enrolled and on track toward achieving their degree or certificates.

Join us for a Celebrate and Share PAC Excellence Breakfast!
Thursday, Oct. 11 | 9-10 a.m. | Legacy Room (Ozuna 101)

Academic Advising: AlamoADVISE

Academic Advising: AlamoADVISE

This unique, comprehensive advising model is focused on case management and proactive outreach to support students in achieving their educational goals.

Join us for a Celebrate and Share PAC Excellence Breakfast!
Friday, Oct. 19 | 9-10 a.m. | Legacy Room (Ozuna 101)