Central Lakes College, Brainerd and Staples, is one of 120 colleges competing for a share of $1 million to be awarded by the Aspen Institute for innovative strategies and student success. The first Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence will be awarded in December to an unspecified number of colleges from the 120 listed after the first round of competition. It will use data on colleges in 32 states which demonstrate strong outcomes in three areas of student success: 1. Persistence and completion, 2. Consistent improvement in outcomes over time, and 3. Equity in outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. CLC joins three other two-year colleges in Minnesota which prevailed in the first of three rounds of a process that incorporates a broad range of criteria using nationally available data. The others are Alexandria Technical and Community College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College (Fergus Falls), and Minnesota West Community and Technical College (Granite Falls). The Aspen Institute said the competition stems from initiatives to improve community college completion rates driven by President Obama. The goal is to enable more students to succeed in high-wage careers and further educational attainment.