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The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College as one of 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. Selection was based on strong and improving student outcomes, including learning, completion rates, employment rates and earnings, and equity.

MGCCC has been selected for the top 150 several times –in 2010, 2012 and 2014– and was selected as a top ten finalist in 2010.  The award is given every two years.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the top community colleges in the nation,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president.  “Gulf Coast is committed to offering students the very best opportunities for success through education and training. This recognition proves we are doing a great job. We want to do even better to provide our communities with excellent academic, job and career training, and a variety of educational resources.”

The top 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize will be named in May 2020. The Aspen Institute will then conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data. A distinguished jury will make award decisions in spring 2021.

Funded by ECMC Foundation, Joyce Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and Siemens Foundation, the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies and leadership that significantly improve student outcomes. 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.

Previous winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence are Miami Dade College (FL) and Indian River State College (FL), 2019; Lake Area Technical College (SD), 2017; Santa Fe College (FL), 2015; Santa Barbara City College (CA) and Walla Walla Community College (WA), 2013; and Valencia College (FL), 2011.

For a full list of the top 150 eligible institutions and to read more on the selection process, visit

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