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Two City Colleges Announced as Contenders for Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence

3/25/2014 12:00 AM

​The Aspen Institute has announced that City Colleges of Chicago’s Kennedy-King College and Wilbur Wright College are contenders for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The two colleges are among 150 schools from 37 states being considered for the prize.

“We are truly honored that two City Colleges have been named among the top 150 community colleges in the country,” said Chancellor Cheryl Hyman.  “This recognition is testament to the tremendous work our faculty, staff and students have done to reinvent City Colleges so that all of our students are prepared for further college and careers.”

Kennedy-King College and Wright College were selected from more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide for their demonstrated commitment to student success. Three areas were used to determine success: rate of student retention, graduation and transfer to four-year institutions; improvements over a five-year time span in outcomes and performance metrics; and equity in outcomes for students of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Kennedy-King College and Wright College have made significant improvements since the launch of City Colleges’ Reinvention initiative, a comprehensive reform effort to revamp all aspects of City Colleges to ensure students’ success. Chancellor Cheryl Hyman launched the initiative soon after arriving in 2010.

Since the launch of Reinvention at Kennedy-King College:

  • The college’s official graduation rate has nearly tripled, increasing from 8 percent to 26 percent in Fiscal Year 2013.*
  • Total number of degrees and certificates awarded increased by more than 75 percent to 1,164 in FY2013.

Since the launch of Reinvention at Wright College:   

  • The official graduation rate has risen 75 percent, increasing from 8 percent to 14 percent in Fiscal Year 2013.*
  • The college’s total number of completers increased by 74 percent, reaching 1,600 in FY2013.

Through the College to Careers program, launched by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chancellor Hyman in December 2011, City Colleges works with industry and four-year college partners to better align its classes with industry demand to ensure Chicagoans are prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Kennedy-King College serves as City Colleges’ College to Careers hub in culinary/hospitality programs and Wright College serves as City Colleges’ hub for information technology. 

Located in the Englewood community, Kennedy-King College is federally designated as a Predominantly Black Institution (PBI) of higher education and Wilbur Wright College, located on Chicago’s Northwest side, has been federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). 

Community colleges serve seven million degree-seeking students across the nation. The Aspen Institute and the foundations funding the $1 million prize—Joyce Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and Bank of America—seek to further drive social mobility and economic growth, while identifying exceptional practices that can be emulated to achieve successful outcomes in community colleges nationally.

The top 10 finalists will be announced in fall 2014, and the winner of the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence will be announced in early 2015.

*FY2013 data is projected subject to verification by the state and federal governments.​​​