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Kingsborough Community College/CUNY Named

One of Top Four Community Colleges in America

by Aspen Institute

Chosen as finalist-with-distinction from more than 1,000 nationwide

 Washington, DC, March 19, 2013 – The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program announced today Kingsborough Community College/CUNY in Brooklyn, New York as a finalist-with-distinction for the 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Selected from the nation’s more than 1,000 public community colleges, Kingsborough will receive a $100,000 prize to support its programs.

As the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges, the Prize recognizes institutions for outstanding achievement in four areas: student learning outcomes, degree completion, labor market success in securing good jobs after college, and facilitating minority and low-income student success. 

 “Kingsborough Community College has achieved strong results in graduation, transfer, and employment outcomes while working with an extremely diverse group of students, many who face challenging life circumstances,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “Its staff and faculty are deeply committed to removing the roadblocks that keep so many community college students from finishing what they start.”

Dr. Jill Biden, Second Lady of the United States, joined John Engler, president of Business Roundtable and former Governor of Michigan, Richard Riley, former US Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor, and Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, at the Newseum in Washington, DC in celebrating the program and the hard work of the applicants. The winners and finalists-with-distinction were selected by a Prize Jury of 12 prominent leaders in education, business, civil rights, and public service. Prize winners Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA) will each receive $400,000. The second finalist-with-distinction, Lake Area Technical Institute (SD) also receives $100,000.

 Kingsborough Community College

 Kingsborough Community College works hard to maintain access for a large multi-cultural, multi-ethnic majority low-income student body and has put in place a variety of academic and other support services to help students succeed. Most notable are its well-recognized and highly effective “learning communities,” which group students together in linked courses and provide intensive individualized support. The administration and faculty continuously assess student performance and completion, and also offer strategies to help students overcome the non-academic barriers they face, like inadequate childcare, housing and transportation costs, and other concerns that would otherwise make it difficult for them to stay in and complete college. This cohesive approach has resulted in increased retention, graduation and transfer rates.  

• 60% of students transfer to four-year colleges, compared with the national average of 26%.


• Five years after completing their degrees, graduates earn about $41,000 - comparable to the wages of all other workers’ in the area.


• 61% of first-time full-time students receive Pell grants, the main federal financial aid program for students.


• 47% of students are underrepresented minorities, closely mirroring the number within the college service area.  

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – enrolled across America, working toward degrees and certificates.  

"As a community college teacher, I have seen firsthand the tremendous power community colleges have to change lives," Dr. Biden said. "Community colleges are essential to the President's goal of having the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. They represent a uniquely American idea – that if you work hard and get a good education, you can get the skills you need for a good job and build a better life for you and your family. We are pleased to celebrate the contributions of these Prize winners and finalists."  

Community college students are more likely than four-year college students to be minorities, to come from low-income backgrounds, and to be the first in their families to pursue higher education. As the most affordable option in higher education, the average tuition at community colleges is about $3,000 per year per student, less than half the average at public four year colleges and 10 percent of what is now charged by top private four-year colleges and universities.  

“Community colleges are vital to a healthy American economy,” said Engler, co-chair of the jury that selected the winners. “With millions of unfilled jobs in this country because workers don’t have the skills to fill them, it’s critically important that we continue to support a strong community college system.”  

“We owe it to students to shine a spotlight on community colleges that are excelling at providing students with an affordable high-quality education,” said Riley, jury co-chair.  

This Prize is about improving student achievement and raising the bar for all community colleges because all Americans, particularly the growing population of low-income and minority students, are increasingly relying on community colleges to give them the skills they need for a better future.”

 The Selection Process

 The Aspen Institute convenes three committees of thought leaders and practitioners to evaluate community college performance through rigorous review of data and practice: Data/Metrics Advisory Panel, the Finalist Selection Committee, and the Prize Jury.

 The 12-member Prize Jury that selected this year’s winners and finalists-with-distinction included:

John Engler (Co-chair), President, Business Roundtable, former Governor of Michigan

Richard Riley (Co-chair), Senior Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough LLP and Education Counsel LLC; former Secretary of Education; former Governor of South Carolina

Esther Aguilera, President/CEO, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Anthony P. Carnevale, Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

David Leonhardt, Washington Bureau Chief, The New York Times

Michael Lomax, President/CEO, United Negro College Fund

Joe Loughrey, retired CEO, Cummins, Inc.

Wes Moore, Author, The Other Wes Moore; military veteran

John Morgridge, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco Systems, Inc.

Charlene Nunley, Program Director, University of Maryland University College’s Doctor of Management in Community College Policy and Administration; former President, Montgomery Community College

Jon Schnur, Executive Chairman, America Achieves

General Anthony Zinni, former Commander in Chief of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), United States Marine Corps (retired)

 Affiliations of Prize Jury members listed solely for purposes of identification, and do not reflect organizational endorsement of the Aspen Prize.

 For a full electronic press kit, including additional student outcomes, policies and practices that distinguished the Aspen Prize Winners and Finalists-with-Distinction, as well as details on all of the Prize Finalists, please visit:



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