Awards & Recognition

SPSCC Named 2023 Aspen Prize Finalist

By Aspen Institute & SPSCC Staff

June 7, 2022

The Aspen Institute announced today that South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) is one of ten finalists for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This is the first time the college has been part of this prestigious group.

The $1 million Aspen Prize—once described by former president Barack Obama as “basically the Oscars for great community colleges”—is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students.

“We are incredibly proud and humbled to be an Aspen finalist,” said Dr. Timothy Stokes, president of SPSCC. “Our staff and faculty have spent the last eight years transforming every aspect of what we do so that student success is at the center of our decision-making. Together we have built a campus culture that centers and values every student and I’m thrilled that the results of that work are being recognized on a national level.”

Awarded every two years, the Aspen Prize honors colleges that show outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

Representatives from Aspen will come to SPSCC this fall for a multi-day site visit to gather additional insights before determining the ultimate Aspen Prize winner, which will be announced next spring. Learn more about the Aspen Prize and the other finalists at

Photo of Building 22 with a badge that reads "Aspen Prize Finalist 2023"
SPSCC is honored to have our work advancing student success and equity recognized on a national level.


SPSCC combines small class sizes, world-class faculty and staff, and modern facilities to complete our mission of amplifying student success.

Each year, SPSCC serves more than 6,000 students across many goals and Pathways, including degree-seeking students, high schoolers, veterans, international students, and underemployed workers. We see thousands of students each year land a new job, learn a new skill, earn a degree, and pursue exciting opportunities from our campuses in Olympia and Lacey and classes in Yelm and online.

Our core themes of student achievement, equity, and learning and engagement are the heart of the work completed by our departments and faculty, and we have been serving the city of Olympia and its surrounding communities for more than sixty years.

About the Aspen Institute

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

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

*This release was written by the Aspen Institute with contributions from SPSCC staff.