South Mountain Community College Named as 2023 Bellwether Award Finalist

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

(Phoenix, AZ) - The Bellwether College Consortium recently named South Mountain Community College as one of 30 finalists for its prestigious Bellwether Award, and SMCC will now compete for the top prize at the 29th Annual Community College Futures Assembly (CCFA), taking place Feb. 26 – 28, 2023 in San Antonio, TX. 

The nationally recognized and highly competitive Bellwether Award identifies and honors outstanding and innovative community college programs in three award categories. Only 10 submissions from community colleges across the country are selected to compete in each of the three categories, for a total of 30 nationwide submissions. The three Bellwether Award categories include: Instructional Programs and Services; Workforce Development; and Planning, Governance and Finance.

“The significance of the Bellwether Award is that the winning programs are replicable, scalable, equity-focused, and demonstrate evidence-based success,” said Rose Martinez, Ph.D., director for the Bellwether College Consortium. “With the complexity of issues facing our community colleges today, these finalists are extraordinary examples of colleges providing scalable solutions to tough challenges.” 

SMCC’s submission which earned a finalist nod was the college’s Ultimate Technology Summer Camp, which was submitted in the Instructional Programs and Services category. This category recognizes programs and services that foster or support teaching and learning.

“The Bellwether finalist nomination highlights the continued amazing and innovative work that takes place at South Mountain Community College,” said Dr. Richard Daniel, president of South Mountain Community College. “I am extremely proud of our professor, Maria Bailey-Bensen, and her team, whose dedication to the Ultimate Technology Summer Camp has made it such a tremendous success.”

The SMCC Ultimate Technology Summer Camp was created to expose underrepresented minority and female students to educational opportunities and careers in science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) - with an emphasis on technology. The goal of the program is to stimulate interest in STEM and increase the number of underrepresented minority and female students enrolling in STEM related courses – in both high school and college.

“This is such an important effort, in providing STEM opportunities to kids who may not otherwise encounter them,” said SMCC faculty member and creator of the camp, Maria Bailey-Bensen. “The world runs on technology and STEM fields, and we need to build that foundation of knowledge now.” 

This nomination marks the tenth time over the past nine years that SMCC has been named a Bellwether Finalist. SMCC is the sole representative from the Maricopa County Community College District named as a finalist this year.