OVAE Connection - March 28, 2013 - Issue 143

OVAE Connection

                                                                            March 28, 2012 - Issue 143

Walla Walla Community College and Santa Barbara City College Named Co-Winners of 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

Last week, the Aspen Institute College Experience Program awarded its 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence to Walla Walla Community College in Washington and Santa Barbara City College in California. Each of the co-winners will receive $400,000. Kingsborough Community College—City University in Brooklyn and Lake Area Technical Institute in South Dakota were awarded Finalist with Distinction honors and each will receive $100,000. Other finalists were Brazosport College (Texas), Broward College (Florida), College of the Ouachitas (Arkansas), Santa Fe College (Florida), Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, and West Kentucky Community and Technical College. 

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization that fosters values-based leadership and addresses critical issues, created the prize in 2011 to draw attention to the contributions community colleges make to their communities and “to recognize community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes in both absolute performance and improvements over time.” With a focus on student success and models of community college education that work, the Aspen Prize “honor[s] excellence, stimulate[s] innovation, and create[s] benchmarks for measuring progress.” 

To select winners and finalists, the institute and its Prize Jury use a three-round process based on four key elements of excellence: college completion and transfer rates, labor market outcomes, learning outcomes, and equity in matriculating and graduating low-income and minority students. In the first round, after reviewing data from over 1,000 U. S. public community colleges, the Aspen Institute’s Data Metrics Advisory Panel recommends 120 institutions to submit applications for the prize. In the second round, a Finalist Selection Committee, composed of former community college presidents, policy experts, and researchers, then reviews the applications and selects 10 institutions with outstanding student outcomes in the four priority areas as finalists. In the final round, following a lengthy process of site visits and interviews with college leadership, staff, faculty, students and community partners, the Prize Jury, comprising prominent former elected officials, national business and civic leaders, and education experts, selects the winner(s) and up to four finalists with distinction. More information on the methodology used to award the Aspen Prize can be found here.

The Aspen Institute noted this year’s co-winners represent the diversity of the community college mission. Santa Barbara City College was honored for preparing its diverse student body to transfer to four-year institutions and successfully complete bachelor’s degrees, while Walla Walla Community College was commended for its strong workforce training programs that are well aligned with the needs of employers in the region and prepare students for jobs in a number of high-demand, emerging fields.

Four of this year’s finalists were also finalists in 2011: Lake Area Technical Institute, Santa Barbara City College, Walla Walla Community College, and West Kentucky Community and Technical College. The 2011 winner, Valencia College, was not eligible to participate in this year’s competition.

Helping 100 Million Americans Cross the Digital Divide

Last week, Connect2Compete (C2C) launched the Ad Council campaign EveryoneOn, a federal government, corporate, philanthropic and community collaboration to promote the importance of digital literacy skills and increase access to free computer and Internet classes in communities around the country. With 100 million Americans—one third of all Americans—not having Internet access at home, EveryoneOn provides an online tool kit designed to narrow this digital divide. Through this campaign, free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and affordable computers for low-income individuals are made available so that more Americans can leverage the power of technology and the Internet.

C2C, which launched as a program of the Federal Communications Commission in 2011, is now a national public-private partnership that receives significant support from the Knight Foundation, Carlos Slim Foundation, and Living Cities to eliminate the digital divide. Some 62 million Americans are still isolated because they lack both the access and the skills needed to use the Internet effectively. Through the Ad Council’s EveryoneOn campaign, more citizens, especially low-income individuals and minorities disproportionately affected by the effects of the digital divide, will have access to technologies—especially the Internet—to improve their lives and thrive in a global economy. Individuals can access resources on finding a job, helping their children with homework, and using e-commerce and electronic medical records, as well as connecting with friends and family.

The EveryoneOn user-friendly online toolkit hosts downloadable resources geared to aiding local partners to manage and develop their organizations’ operations. Users have access to a zip code search tool to free computer and Internet training classes in their area. The tool kit also includes information about computer basics, job searches, government resources, and ways to connect with friends and family.

All interested individuals, and local programs and providers are encouraged to visit the EveryoneOn campaign’s website for Public Service Announcements, localized materials, tools, and resources and to learn how to become a partner, spread the word, share the campaign materials and resources, and create a waiver to use with photographs and videos of trainings for submission. Stay tuned to the OVAE blog for updates.

Experimental Sites Initiative Deadline Extended to April 30

The U.S. Department of Education has extended the deadline for postsecondary educational institutions to express interest in participating in one or more of the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI) experiments currently in process for Title IV student assistance programs. Interested institutions now have until April 30, 2013 to send an email message to experimentalsites@ed.gov, following the submission guidance provided in DCL GEN-13-03. For more information on ESI and for guidance on submitting an application, see the Dear Colleague Letter (DCL GEN-13-03) issued by the Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid.