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November 15, 2019

Ocean County College Invited to Apply For $1 Million Aspen Prize Recognizing Community College Excellence in United States

Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. Aspen Institute College Excellence Program top 150 community colleges.

Ocean County College is among the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the country’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges.

Only 15 percent of community colleges across the United States have been invited to apply for the award by The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, which focuses singularly on student success, and bases its selections on community colleges’ outstanding achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for students of color as well as low-income students.

The eligible community colleges were selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 public two-year colleges nationwide, using publicly available data on student outcomes.

“Community colleges play a vital role in developing talent and enabling social mobility across the country, and it’s critical for them to get better at what they do,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. “We’re pleased to see evidence that these institutions are improving, that more are delivering on their promise. We’re also pleased to play a role in honoring outstanding community colleges and sharing what works to ensure great outcomes for students — through graduation and beyond.”

The top 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in the spring of 2021.

As a result of OCC’s eligibility for the Aspen Prize, the College is also invited to apply for a second Aspen program: The Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award, which recognizes outstanding community college STEM programs. For more information, contact Kayci Clayton, Grants Manager at or 732-255-0400 ext. 2962.

About The Aspen Prize and the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Prize is generously funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and Siemens Foundation.

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. For more information, visit and and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.

The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About Ocean County College

For more than 50 years, Ocean County College, a public two-year community college sponsored by Ocean County and the State of New Jersey, has provided area residents with the opportunity to benefit from higher education. OCC is an innovative academic leader offering affordable, student-centered, high-quality educational experiences that prepare and empower diverse learners to contribute to and succeed in global societies. OCC invests in and fosters academic, economic, and cultural excellence, and ensures financial strength by generating new revenue streams, engaging in national and international university and corporate partnerships, and cultivating a technologically progressive and entrepreneurial spirit.

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