Los Medanos College Recognized as a Top 150 U.S. Community College by the Aspen Institute for Fourth Time

PRESS RELEASE: November 2, 2021


LMC is eligible for $1 million 2023 Aspen Prize, which recognizes excellence in equitable outcomes for students

College Excellence Program Aspen InstitutePITTSBURG, CA: The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today named Los Medanos College (LMC) as one of 150 institutions eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America's community colleges.  The colleges selected for this honor stand out among more than 1,000 community colleges nationwide as having high and improving levels of student success, as well as equitable outcomes for Black students, Latinx students, and students from lower-income backgrounds. 

The 150 eligible colleges have been invited to submit data and narratives as the next steps in an intensive data and practice review process, which culminates with the Spring 2023 announcement of the Aspen Prize winner.

“I am very proud of our college for once again being identified as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. community college,” said Dr. Bob Kratochvil, president of Los Medanos College.  “This recognition from the Aspen Institute is acknowledgement of the hard work and dedicated efforts of our classified professionals, faculty, and managers, as well as their deep commitment to student success and continuous improvement.  I am grateful to each of them for their focus on learning, completion, and equitable outcomes for all of our students.”

This is the fourth time in succession that Los Medanos College has been named as an “Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College.”  LMC was previously recognized and eligible to apply for the Aspen Prize during the 2017, 2019, and 2021 award cycles.

The Aspen Prize spotlights exemplary community colleges in order to: elevate this sector of higher education; drive attention to colleges doing the best work; and discover and share highly effective student success and equity strategies.  Since 2010, Aspen has chosen to focus intensively on community colleges because they are – as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden stated at the 2021 Aspen Prize ceremony – “a powerful engine of prosperity.”

However, student outcomes vary enormously among community colleges, and improving those outcomes is essential to securing our nation’s economic future, strengthening communities, and ensuring that diverse populations experience economic mobility and prosperity.  With these goals in mind, the Aspen Prize honors colleges with outstanding achievement in five critical areas: teaching and learning; certificate and degree completion; transfer and bachelor’s attainment; workforce success; and equity for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

aspen 23 badge“In an era of persistent inequity and workforce talent gaps, our nation’s best community colleges are stepping up to deliver more degrees to increasingly diverse students so they are prepared for the good jobs waiting to be filled,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program.  “Leaders of exceptional community colleges understand that achieving excellence requires expanding college access and increasing degree completion, but it doesn’t stop there.  They are committed to ensuring that all students – including students of color and those from low-income backgrounds – graduate with the skills needed to secure a job with family-sustaining wages or successfully transfer to and graduate from a university.  That same commitment that stands at the center of the Aspen Prize: to advance the goals of social mobility and equitable talent development.”

The eligible institutions represent the diversity and depth of the community college sector.  Located in urban, rural, and suburban areas across 34 states, these colleges serve as few as 230 students and as many as 57,000.  Winning colleges have ranged from smaller institutions serving rural communities and smaller towns (2017: Lake Area Technical Institute [SD], 2013: Walla Walla Community College [WA]) to large community colleges serving major metropolitan areas (2019: Miami Dade College [FL], 2021: San Antonio College [TX]).  The other previous winners are: Indian River State College, FL [2019]); Santa Fe College, FL [2015]; Santa Barbara City College, CA [2013]; and Valencia College, FL [2011].

In this first round, eligibility for the Aspen Prize is based on publicly available data.  Colleges must show strong and improving student outcomes in key areas such as retention, completion, transfer, and equity.  Nationwide, 15% of community colleges – 150 of the approximately 1,000 public two-year colleges assessed for the Prize – have been invited to apply.  A full list of eligible colleges can be accessed on the Prize homepage.  The next steps in the process include:

  • Spring/Summer 2022 – Selection and announcement of the top 10 finalists by an expert panel of 15 experts in community colleges, higher education, and workforce training
  • Fall 2022 – During site visits to each of the 10 finalists, the Aspen Institute and partners will collect additional information, including employment data, earnings data, and insights about promising practices
  • Early 2023 – A distinguished jury will meet and make award decisions
  • Late Spring 2023 – Announcement of the Aspen Prize winner(s)

For additional information on the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and to learn more about the selection process, visit https://highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize/.

Los Medanos College (LMC), one of three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District, has served the east Contra Costa County community since 1974.  LMC offers award-winning transfer and career education programs, high-quality support services, and diverse academic opportunities in an engaging and inclusive learning environment.  With exceptional educators, innovative curricula, growing degree and certificate offerings, strong regional partnerships, and state-of-the-art facilities, the College prepares students for success at four-year institutions, in the workforce, and beyond.  LMC offers classes and support services at its 120-acre Pittsburg Campus and new permanent Brentwood Center.  For more information about Los Medanos College, please visit www.losmedanos.edu.


The Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium and the Joyce Foundation.

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program
aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes, especially for the growing population of low-income students and students of color on American campuses. For more information, visit https://highered.aspeninstitute.org/aspen-prize/ and www.linkedin.com/showcase/aspenhighered, and follow @AspenHigherEd on Twitter.  The Aspen Prize hashtag is #AspenPrize.


The Aspen Institute is a community-serving organization with global reach whose vision is a free, just, and equitable society.  For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado, and New York City, and an international network of partners.  For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.