Pierce College has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, a national award that recognizes two-year schools that effectively identify, develop and scale strategies that help students complete college and succeed after graduation. It’s the only community college in the Pacific Northwest to appear on the list this year.

The college — a state community college district with three campuses — was cited for achieving exceptional graduation and transfer rates, and for narrowing gaps for students of color. It’s the second time Pierce has been named an Aspen Prize finalist; in 2019, the college was honored as a “rising star” for exceptional levels of improvement.

In a 2017 interview, Pierce Chancellor Michele Johnson described how the colleges used data to track student success rates, and invested in tutoring and supplemental instruction to help students succeed.

The winners will be chosen among the finalists by a team of national experts, who will examine outcome data and visit each of the colleges selected as finalists. Top schools will split $1 million prize money, and will be selected in May 2021.