Navajo Technical College in New Mexico has been chosen as one of the 120 community colleges eligible for this year’s Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for two years in a row. These schools were chosen from more than 1,000 colleges, represent 31 states and “demonstrate high levels of student success in the areas of performance, improvement, and equity,” says a press release.
The prize—a privately-funded $1 million—was announced by President Barack Obama at the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. The goal of the Aspen Prize is to improve community college completion rates.
“Community colleges are a critical linchpin in America’s efforts to educate our way to greater prosperity and equality. If the U.S. is to regain a leadership position in postsecondary education and economic growth, community colleges must be a big part of the solution: they account for most of the growth in college enrollment over the last decade; they disproportionately educate students of color and first-generation college students who most need higher education to get a foothold in the new economy; and community colleges are the primary source of skills training for workers in many sectors of the economy,” according to the Aspen Institute website.
Last year, three tribal colleges—Navajo Technical College, Fort Belknap College in Montana and Chief Dull Knife College in Montana—made the top 120 list, though none was the final winner. That honor went to Valencia College in Orlando, Florida in December 2011.