The Aspen Institute names NWTC a semifinalist for prestigious 2025 Aspen Prize

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NWTC is one of 20 community colleges being considered for a $1 million national prize that recognizes excellence in student outcomes, both in college and after graduation
NWTC is one of 20 community colleges being considered for a $1 million national prize that recognizes excellence in student outcomes, both in college and after graduation

Today, the Aspen Institute named NWTC a semifinalist for the 2025 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. NWTC is one of 20 institutions nationwide eligible for a $1 million prize recognizing success in student outcomes. 

The colleges selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges for achieving high and improving levels of student success, as well as providing equitable outcomes for Black and Hispanic students and those from lower-income backgrounds.

NWTC’s President, Kristen Raney, states “This is a moment of immense pride at NWTC as we celebrate our recognition as one of the nation’s top community colleges by the Aspen Institute. This is a clear testament to the dedication and success of our employees, partners, and community. This achievement will fuel our momentum as we continue our mission in transforming lives through higher education.”

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding performance in six critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, broad access to the college and its offerings, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2025.

Joshua Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, congratulated the semifinalists. “Each of these colleges has demonstrated a sustained commitment to moving beyond enrollment and retention as the markers of student success to defining their success by whether the education they provide changes lives,” Wyner said. “These colleges understand that enrollment and graduation matter most when tied tightly to post-graduation success in transferring for a bachelor’s degree and in securing fulfilling, good-paying jobs and careers.”

The Aspen Prize selection process began in October 2023, when Aspen invited 150 community colleges to apply, based on data showing strong, improving, and equitable student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, and transfer. One hundred and eighteen colleges applied, and their applications went to a diverse selection committee of 18 higher education experts who assessed each application based on extensive data and narrative answers to questions. Following interviews with leadership teams from applicants receiving top scores, 20 semifinalists were selected. In the coming weeks, the committee will continue its review and narrow the field to 10 finalists, which will be announced in June.

After the 10 finalists are announced, next steps in the process include:

  • Fall 2024: Multi-day in-person site visits to each of the 10 finalists, during which the Aspen Institute and partners will collect additional information and data, including extensive employment and earnings data on graduates from the finalist colleges.
  • Winter 2025: A distinguished, independent Aspen Prize jury will review data and qualitative summaries that synthesize each part of the 14-month analyses, then meet for a full day to select the winner and others for additional recognition. 
  • Spring 2025: Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner and celebration of the 10 finalists in Washington DC.

To read more on the selection process, visit



The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, and the Kresge Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program supports colleges and universities in their quest to achieve a higher standard of excellence, delivering credentials that unlock life-changing careers and strengthen our economy, society, and democracy. We know it takes visionary college leaders to lead scaled, sustainable reforms, and we make it our mission to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and research-backed tools to inspire change, shift practice, and advance the capacity of colleges to deliver excellent and equitable student outcomes. For more information, visit our website and follow us on LinkedIn and X.

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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