TCC to Compete for $1 Million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

November 2, 2021

The Aspen Institute, which named Tallahassee Community College one of the Top 10 colleges in the nation earlier this year, today named TCC one of the 150 institutions eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence again in 2023. The Prize is the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among 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. The 150 eligible colleges have been invited to submit data and narratives as the next steps in an intensive data and practice review process, culminating in the announcement of the Prize winner in the spring of 2023.

“We are honored by the institute’s Top 10 recognition earlier this year and the more recent selection to compete for the 2023 Aspen Prize as a result of our commitment to student success,” said TCC President Jim Murdaugh. “This honor is the result of the College’s unwavering commitment to advance a student-centered focus. I am proud of our team and their passion to make sure our College can provide whatever our students dream.”

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium and the Joyce Foundation. The 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.”

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. The Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding achievement in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

“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.”

In this first round, eligibility for the Aspen Prize is based on publicly available data. Eligible colleges must show strong and improving student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity. Nationwide, only 15 percent of community colleges (150 of the approximately 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide assessed for the Prize) have been invited to apply.

The next steps in the process include:

  • Selection of the Top 10 finalists by a panel of 15 experts in community colleges, higher education, and workforce training, to be announced in spring/summer 2022.
  • Fall 2022 site visits to each of the 10 finalists, during which the Aspen Institute and partners will collect additional information, including employment and earnings data and insights about promising practices.
  • A distinguished jury will meet and make award decisions in the first quarter of 2023.
  • Announcement of the Aspen Prize in late spring 2023.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit