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Aspen Prize award goes to two Florida schools

WASHINGTON -- The winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2019 were announced Tuesday, with a pair of Florida colleges taking the honor.

WASHINGTON - The winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence in 2019 were announced Tuesday, with a pair of Florida colleges taking the honor.

Mitchell Technical Institute was in the top-10 list of finalists for the award but didn't receive recognition Tuesday. The institute honored two winners: Indian River State College, in Fort Pierce, Florida, and Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida.

With a focus on student success, the Aspen Prize assesses institutional performance in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, post-graduation labor success and transferring to four-year institutions, and equity in access and success for students of color and low-income students.

A total of $1 million in prize money is available to the winners, and both Indian River State College and Miami Dade College will receive $350,000 each. Aspen also awarded three colleges with the "Rising Star" award for their strong record of improvement: Odessa College (Odessa, Texas), Palo Alto College (San Antonio, Texas), and Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom (Lakewood, Washington). Each will receive $100,000.

The announcement was made at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

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MTI was a finalist for the honor for the first time and Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown won the 2017 award. Indian River State College, which has 24,300 students, is located more than 60 miles from the nearest four-year universities, and has created 17 of its own bachelor's degree programs to assist students. Miami Dade College, with nearly three-quarters of its students identifying as Hispanic, the college has more than 17,000 immigrant students each year from more than 150 countries and had graduation rates for students of color and bachelor's attainment rates for transfer students above the national average.

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