The Aspen Institute has announced that it has selected Northeast Iowa Community College as being in the top 10 percent of community colleges in the country. The designation makes NICC eligible to win the Aspen Institute Prize for Community College Excellence, and a top prize of $700,000.
The Aspen Institute used publicly available data on two-year colleges to make the determination. This is the first year the Aspen Institute, through its new Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Program, has coordinated the award process to identify the best American community colleges, and to replicate their best practices to improve education in the country.
NICC and 119 other community colleges now will be winnowed to eight to ten finalists in September based on how much students learn, how many complete their programs on time and how well students do in the job market after graduating. As part of the next phase, NICC will submit an application that demonstrates these criteria to qualify for the second nomination round in the fall. Aspen will conduct site visits to each of the finalists after the September announcement, and, based on the evidence, the Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and two to three runners-up, to be announced in December 2011.