Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY) was named as one of 10 finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. This is the nation’s preeminent recognition of high achievement and performance in America’s community colleges.

 Hostos now enters the final stage of competition for the $1 million prize that will be awarded to the winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction in March 2015 in Washington, D.C. Making this recognition even more special is the fact that Hostos is the only community college in New York State to reach this point in the selection process.

“It gives me immense joy to know that our remarkable college is being recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of the top 10 community colleges for the Aspen Prize.  This is an extraordinary accomplishment, and we could not be more thrilled,” said Dr. David Gómez, the Interim President of Hostos.

From an initial facility housed in a former tire factory 46 years ago, Hostos has become a highly prominent institution of higher learning, serving 7,000 students and more than 13,000 continuing education students. Hostos has been a critical catalyst in the transformation of this community and the educational advancement of Bronxnites.

The Aspen Prize is awarded every two years, and Hostos competed with an original pool of more than 1,000 other institutions. With a singular focus on student success, the Aspen 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.

Dr. Gómez went through the Aspen Award selection process previously when he was serving as the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs at Kingsborough Community College.  Kingsborough was named as a finalist for the award in 2013. 

Before his time at Kingsborough, Dr. Gómez spent more than a decade at Hostos in several senior administrative positions, including Dean of the College, Interim Dean of Academic Affairs, Associate Dean of the College, and Special Assistant to the President.

Dr. Gómez considers Hostos’ recognition to be well-deserved, and he credits its former President, Dr. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, who was recently appointed as President of Queens College of CUNY, for raising Hostos to its current level of excellence.

Dr. Matos Rodríguez said he shared this special recognition with Hostos’ faculty, staff, students, and alumni.

“When you look at the criteria for the award itself, Hostos Community College has served as a leader in the areas of student support and community building since 1968. I could not be more thrilled that the world will know more about the important work that Hostos is doing, and will continue to do,” Dr. Matos Rodríguez said.

Hostos on the Rise
Hostos is enjoying an incredible period of growth.

To meet the needs of its large numbers of minority and immigrant students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, Hostos established holistic support programs, including the Student Success Coaching Unit, the Single Stop USA Resource Center, and the Bridge Tuition Support Assistance (BTSA)—a needs-based emergency scholarship program.

These initiatives have helped Hostos improve retention and more than doubled graduation rates for some of the least academically prepared students in the nation.

Hostos’ Division for Continuing Education and Workforce Development (CEWD) recently created the Center for Bronx Non-Profits to strengthen and support community organizations. In 2012, Hostos and the CEWD partnered with the NYC Department of Small Business Services and FEGS Health and Human Services System to open the Bronx Workforce1 Career Extension Center. The Center offers workshops and one-on-one appointments with job-seekers to review resumes, screen for jobs, and match candidates with available jobs.

Hostos also was busy this year working with several high-profile and civic-minded companies to keep students enrolled and on the road to success.
  • Partnering with Montefiore Medical Center, CUNY, and the Department of Education, Hostos helped to launch the Health, Education and Research Occupations (H.E.R.O.) High School, a new public 9-14 high school for students interested in health careers.
  • The College is also preparing to launch the nation’s first community college Food Studies Academic Program after working with employers, community leaders and other stakeholders around the Hunts Point Market.
  • Hostos was selected to join the Aspen Institute Ascend Network in 2014. This new network of leading organizations uses a two-generation approach to combat poverty and create economic mobility for families. Through a $50,000 grant, Hostos implemented a two-generation pilot program that enabled student-parents enrolled at the College to accelerate their post-secondary degree completion by making it possible for them to enroll in summer coursework (often not covered through financial aid programs) while simultaneously enrolling their children in Hostos’ College for Kids Summer Academy.                         
  • Funding from Citi Community Development made it possible to start the “Summer Success 101: Student Financial Literacy and Retention Program,” which is designed to empower students financially as well as to increase retention and educational attainment rates.
  • A $1 million grant from JPMorgan Chase made it possible for Hostos, Phipps Neighborhoods and Montefiore Health System to create “Career Network: Healthcare Partnership in the South Bronx.” This employer-driven program secures employment and/or education for young adults through training and career exploration geared toward healthcare-related fields.
In July 2014, Hostos was awarded two “CUNY 2020” grants from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo—$2.2 million for “Allied Health Training for Employment” and a portion of a $4.6 million award for a new multi-campus media program. Thanks to this funding, Hostos will create a “business incubator” focused on media and digital design that already has important projects under way, including a game design assignment from UNICEF.  And thanks to the “Allied Health Training for Employment” initiative, Hostos will expand degree and non-degree offerings by updating resources for its existing Nursing, Dental and Radiologic Technology programs, while developing additional ones such as Occupational Therapy Assistant and Physical Therapy Assistant. Faculty members and students will benefit from new state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and from  pedagogical technology that bridges the gap for students who are continuing their college education, and for those who are beginning to prepare for health careers in high school.

“Located in the poorest Congressional district in the country, Hostos Community College provides vital access to higher education to a diverse group of students who have been traditionally excluded from higher education,” said Joshua Wyner, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program in Washington, D.C. “Equally remarkable are the improved student outcomes. Students are successfully learning, completing their programs, earning certificates and getting good jobs at higher rates because this college is advising them each step of the way and addressing factors that can be barriers to student success.”

About The Selection Process
Aspen’s Finalist Selection Committee, comprised of former community college presidents, respected researchers and policy experts, selected the ten 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.
This fall, the Aspen Institute will conduct site visits to each of the ten finalist institutions. Following a rigorous review process, a distinguished Prize Jury will select a grand prize winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction to be announced in March 2015. To learn more about the selection process, go to
The 2013 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence was awarded to Santa Barbara City College (California) and Walla Walla Community College (Washington). In 2011, Valencia College (Florida) was the inaugural Prize winner. According to the Prize rules, former winners were not eligible to reapply for this cycle. 

The Aspen Prize Finalists selected today reflect the diversity and richness of American community colleges – from the large El Paso Community College in El Paso, Texas, with a majority Latino student body of 40,000, to the small-town Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, South Dakota with 1,700 students, to the urban, ethnically diverse Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of the City University of New York and located in the South Bronx, the nation’s poorest congressional district.

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

The Aspen College Excellence Program aims to advance higher education practices, policies, and leadership that significantly improve 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’ understanding and capacity to teach and graduate 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

The 2015 Aspen Prize Finalists (listed in alphabetical order):
Two colleges have been named finalists in three consecutive Prize cycles (indicated with *)
and two others were finalists for a second time (indicated with #)
  • Brazosport College - Lake Jackson, TX#
  • El Paso Community College – El Paso, TX
  • Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, CUNY – Bronx, NY
  • Indian River State College – Fort Pierce, FL
  • Kennedy-King College – Chicago, IL
  • Lake Area Technical Institute, Watertown, SD*
  • Olympic College – Bremerton, WA
  • Renton Technical College – Renton, WA
  • Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL#
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Paducah, KY*