Renton Technical College Responds to Being Identified as One of the Top 10 Community Colleges in the Country

  • Published Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nation’s Signature Recognition of Excellence, Chosen from over 1,000 Community Colleges That Serve Nearly Half of All Undergraduates in the U.S.

RENTON, Wash. — Renton Technical College (RTC) today was named one of the top 10 finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. RTC is now eligible to enter the last stage of the competition for the $1 million prize fund that will be awarded in March 2015 in Washington D.C.

“We are thrilled at the news that Renton Technical College has been named as one of the top ten finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence,” said RTC President Steve Hanson. “This is a tremendous honor that recognizes the extraordinary contributions of RTC’s faculty and staff to the success of our students.”  The Prize recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 community colleges. With a singular focus on student success, the Prize assesses community colleges’ achievements in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, high rates of employment and earnings for graduates, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

“Renton Technical College not only has a very strong graduation rate, it also makes sure its credentials have value by connecting graduates to jobs with good wages,” said Josh Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “Renton’s faculty and staff show that equity and excellence can both be achieved, arming students—many of whom enter underprepared for college—with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in the workplace.”

Renton Technical College stands out as one of the nation’s top community colleges for many reasons, including:

Excellent graduation/transfer rate (66% compared to 40% national average)
Exemplary workforce training programs and strong partnerships with local industry, including Boeing and Ford Motor Company, reflected in high job placement rates
Strong partnerships with K-12 school districts to prepare students for college
Structured career pathways that move students quickly to a degree or other credential, coupled with integrated learning support strategies focused on underprepared students
“RTC’s core mission is to prepare each and every student with the skills and knowledge to be successful in the workplace,” said President Hanson. “To be recognized by the Aspen Institute as being one of the top technical colleges in the nation is a powerful affirmation of RTC’s long-standing commitment to equity, excellence, and student success.”

The Selection Process

Aspen’s Finalist Selection Committee, comprised of former community college presidents, respected researchers and policy experts, selected the 10 finalist institutions after reviewing extensive data on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce outcomes, and equitable outcomes for all students, especially those in traditionally underserved racial/ethnic groups—African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American—and those from low-income backgrounds. Of the 150 institutions named eligible in January, over one hundred applied to compete for the Prize.

The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to co-winners Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington).   Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural Prize winner in 2011.

Nearly half of America’s college students attend community college, with more than seven million students – youth and adult learners – working towards certificates and degrees in these institutions across the country.

The Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the finalists and collect additional quantitative data, including employment and earnings data from states and transfer data from the National Student Clearinghouse. A distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and a few finalists with distinction in early 2015.




The Aspen Prize is funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Joyce Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college student outcomes.  Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the New College Leadership Project and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve colleges’ and policy-makers’ understanding of what is needed to teach and graduate post-secondary students, especially the growing population of low-income and minority students on American campuses. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


Direct all media inquiries to:

Kendra Smith
Renton Technical College
Phone:  425-235-2356