Pierce College Fort Steilacoom in Lakewood was named one of the 10 finalists for the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The bi-annual award is given to high-achieving community colleges from across the country.

Colleges are awarded based on four criteria: student learning, certificate and degree completion for both 2-year and transfer students, post-graduation employment and earnings, and minority and low-income student access and success.

The $1 million prize will be awarded in April 2019 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. There will also be two to three finalists-with-distinction and a “Rising Star,” which is essentially a most-improved award, honored at the ceremony.

“Pierce College Fort Steilacoom has demonstrated its commitment to graduating more students and ensuring that they are well-prepared for jobs through innovative teaching practices in the classroom and intensive advising supports outside the classroom,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. “The college’s long-term, persistent efforts to improve have paid off for those who stand to benefit most – its students.”

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom received this honor in part thanks to its achievements, including a three-year graduation and transfer rate of 59 percent — the U.S. average is 40 percent— and strong veteran success programs, such as a veterans’ resource center and a veteran educational liaison.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom was one of three first-time nominees, and one of two West Coast nominees. Former West Coast winners include Santa Barbara City College and Walla Walla Community College, which were co-winners in 2013.