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Aspen Institute Recognizes Top Community Colleges

Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., was honored with the Aspen Prize on Wednesday and $800,000 in recognition of its work helping students succeed in college and beyond.

The prize, established in 2011 and awarded every two years by the Aspen Institute, a Washington-based education and social policy organization, highlights schools that have excelled in promoting students' learning, completion rates, job placement, and serving minority and low-income students.  The winner is selected from more than 1,100 public colleges nationwide.

The 22,000-student Santa Fe College maintains an overall completion/transfer rate of 62 percent (compared to the national average of 40 percent) with its diverse population of students. The college has developed apps to help students in the registration process, added critical thinking coursework in its health-career training, and created degree programs connected to in-demand jobs in its region.

Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D., and West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, Ky., received finalist-with-distinction awards. Kennedy-King College in Chicago was given the Rising Star Award from Aspen for tripling its graduation rates in the past five years.

Other finalists included:

• El Paso Community College, El Paso, Tex.;

•Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, CUNY, Bronx, N.Y.;

•Indian River State College, Fort Pierce, Fla.;

•Olympic College, Bremerton, Wash.; and

•Renton Technical College, Renton, Wash.

The Aspen Prize receives support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation.

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