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Achieving the Dream

Ranked in the top 10 percent of community colleges in the nation, Davidson County Community College is one of 120 colleges chosen to compete for a new $1 million award from The Aspen Institute. The $1 million prize will be given in late 2011 to reward excellence and recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes.

The community colleges named at a press conference in Washington, D.C. represent the top 10 percent in the country, according to the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. President Obama announced the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence during the White House Summit on Community Colleges in October 2010. Community college presidents from the selected schools, including DCCC President Mary Rittling, were summoned to Washington, D.C. on April 25th as the prize was announced and the competition was officially launched. Also attending were Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education.

“It is a great honor that DCCC was chosen to compete for this prestigious prize,” Rittling said. “It affirms the talent of our staff and faculty and the support of our communities in Davidson and Davie counties. It also validates the direction we are taking to ensure continuous improvement of student outcomes and success through other competitive initiatives such as Achieving the Dream.”

The top community colleges will serve as models and laboratories for identifying innovative strategies and practices that can elevate community-college education nationwide, according to Joshua Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. The Aspen College Excellence Program tries to identify and replicate campus-wide practices that significantly improve college student outcomes.

The Aspen Prize is financially supported by the Joyce Foundation, the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

Eight to 10 community college finalists will be named in September, with the final prize winner and two to three runners-up announced in December. The winner will receive approximately $700,000, while the runners-up will share the remainder of the $1 million.

The 120 community colleges represent 32 states. They were selected from a national pool of nearly 1,200 two-year colleges using student outcomes data available on public websites. The colleges demonstrated high standards in learning and college completion and have established that they are training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages.

DCCC is one of five North Carolina community colleges chosen to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The others are Surry Community College in Dobson, Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, and Cleveland Community College in Shelby.