San Jacinto College was recognized as a finalist with distinction in a national community college excellence award competition, according to a May 18 news release from the college.

The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, awarded every two years since 2011 and worth $1 million, recognizes outstanding community colleges across the United States and assesses performance in various areas of student success, per the release. SJC won $100,000 and the honor of Finalist with Distinction in a virtual award

The Aspen Prize assesses performance in six areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, equity in access and success for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds, and leadership and institutional culture. The award is considered the country's signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges, per the release.

“San Jacinto College takes responsibility for not just making sure that its students earn a degree or credential, but also that they succeed after graduation,” said Linda Perlstein, a director at the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, in the media release. “That care and commitment has yielded great outcomes for graduates.”

According to the Aspen Institute, SJC received the honor for several reasons, including an increase in certificate and degree completion by 168.37% from 2009 to 2019. Another factor making the college a standout is its economic impact on the region: For every $1 students invest in their SJC education, they will see a $6.30 return in future income, per the media release.

The college’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs, per the release. SJC graduates with an Associate of Applied Science degree, intended to prepare students to immediately enter the workforce, earned nearly $15,000 more than the average new hire in Galveston County, per the release.

SJC’s innovation, growth and steady improvement over the past decade are the results of rigorous self-reflection, appropriately scaled reforms, a commitment to owning graduates’ success, strong industry partnerships and state-of-the-art training facilities, said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, in the release.

Three other community colleges in Texas were recognized as part of the 2021 Aspen Prize: the winning college was San Antonio College, and Amarillo College won the Rising Star award for rapid improvement; Odessa College was also a finalist.

SJC was an Aspen Prize finalist in 2019 and Rising Star in 2017. The college also received the Excellence and Equity in Community College STEM Award for its associate degree programs in nursing and process technology in October; the award was given by The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and the Siemens Foundation to seven community colleges and eight programs across the United States.