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The Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit think tank and research organization, has rated Sierra College among the top 150 of the 2400 community colleges in the United States. This makes the college eligible to compete for Aspen's 2019 top prize of $1 million for excellence in education.
"We're especially honored because the Institute's assessment is based on student outcomes, the success our students achieve," said Sierra Superintendent/President Willy Duncan. "This ranking tells us that we are giving our students the skills and knowledge they need to get good jobs or earn degrees at four year universities."
Known for the annual Aspen Ideas Festival where leaders from around the world meet in its namesake Colorado ski town, one of the Institute's missions is to promote proven new ideas in education. The Aspen Prize is awarded for achievements in: quality of learning, access for underserved students, the percentage of students who earn degrees or certificates, and the number who land jobs and earn good salaries.
Of the 11.6 million jobs created in the post-recession economy, all but 100,000 of them required at least some college education, according to the Georgetown University education and workforce center. Employers see higher-quality work, greater productivity, and more innovation from workers who are college educated.
“Placer is growing at the second fastest rate of any county in California,” said Duncan, “Community leaders tell me that an educated and skilled workforce is a major reason new employers choose to locate here."
The Aspen Institute will name ten finalists for the prize in May 2018 and will then visit each top-ten campus to select the grand prize winner in spring 2019. “Through this competition, we're working to inspire community colleges across the country," said Josh Wyner, director of Aspen Education. "We’re working to ensure that more students succeed in college and, beyond the campus, succeed in their lives.”