The Aspen Institute has named MiraCosta College as one of the 150 entities eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, one of the nation’s highest awards honoring achievement and performance of America’s community colleges. The colleges selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success, as well as equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds
“It is an honor to be included amongst the top 15 percent of community colleges invited to compete for the Aspen Prize,” explains Dr. Sunita “Sunny” Cooke, MiraCosta College superintendent/president. “MiraCosta College’s Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and administrators have all been steadfast in our commitment to improving student outcomes in areas of retention, completion, transfer, and equity. We look forward to moving forward in the Aspen selection process.”
The $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition for America’s community colleges—as President Obama called it, “basically the Oscars for great community colleges.”
“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. That same commitment that stands at the center of the Aspen Prize: to advance the goals of social mobility and equitable talent development.”
The Aspen Prize spotlights exemplary community colleges in order to elevate the sector, drive attention to colleges doing the best work, and discover and share highly effective student success and equity strategies. Since 2010, Aspen has chosen to focus intensively on community colleges because they are—as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stated at the 2021 Aspen Prize ceremony—“a powerful engine of prosperity.”
Moving forward, MiraCosta College will submit data and narratives for the intensive review process. Selection of the top ten finalists by a panel of 15 experts in community colleges, higher education, and workforce training, will be announced in spring/summer 2022. 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 by late spring 2023.
About MiraCosta College
The MiraCosta Community College District has served the coastal North San Diego County area for over 80 years. More than 19,000 credit students annually in over 70 disciplines enroll in associate degrees, university transfer and workforce readiness certificate programs. The college also serves over 7,000 students a wide spectrum of educational needs in the region ranging from programs for adult education, community education, basic skills, and ESL to a California Community College pilot program offering the nation’s first baccalaureate degree in biomanufacturing. As a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), veteran and military supportive institution, and Achieving the Dream Leader College, MiraCosta College fosters the academic and holistic success of its diverse learners within a caring and equitable environment to strengthen the educational, economic, cultural, and social well-being of the communities it serves. MiraCosta College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).