2024 Bellwether Legacy Award Finalists Announced, South Mountain Community College named Legacy Finalist will compete for a Legacy Award

Friday, December 8, 2023
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The Bellwether College Consortium announced eight Legacy Finalists who will compete for the 2024 Legacy Award at the upcoming 30th Annual Community College Futures Assembly (CCFA).

This nationally recognized award identifies and honors an innovative community college program that demonstrates five or more years of student success. It is a replicable, scalable, equity-focused program with years of evidenced-based success. The Legacy Award competition is held at the CCFA every five years.

“The Legacy Award is the consortium’s highest honor and only past recognized Bellwether programs are eligible to compete for this recognition,” said Rose Martinez, Ph.D., director for the Bellwether College Consortium. “These finalists are extraordinary colleges that scaled solutions to tough challenges and documented five years or more of admirable success. These challenges were often exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and addressed with analytics-supported implementation of historic modifications in instructional delivery and student support.”

South Mountain Community College’s submission was “Achieving a College Education - Pathway from High School to College”. At SMCC, Achieving a College Education (ACE) is a scholarship program for all high school sophomores who are interested in going to college. Students are provided a pathway from the junior and senior year of high school through community college, and eventually transfer to the university.

ACE was specifically designed to support high school students in circumstances where there was historically low representation of underrepresented minority students pursuing higher education, often due to economic challenges. Sixty-two percent of ACE students are first generation, while sixty-seven percent are minority. Most students come from single parent households.

A Legacy Finalist is a community college program that scores highest in the first round of competition. A team representing the program is invited to compete in the final round of award competition. The following institutions submitted their college programs and have been selected as the new class of Legacy Finalists:

  • Blinn College District (TX)
  • Community College of Beaver County (PA)
  • El Paso Community College (TX)
  • Gaston College (NC)
  • Hudson County Community College (NJ)
  • Pensacola State College (FL)
  • Pima Community College (AZ)
  • South Mountain Community College (AZ)

The Bellwether College Consortium issued a call for submissions in August 2023. Finalists representing six states and eight community colleges were selected to compete. College teams will conduct presentations to a jury of anonymous judges and share how they significantly addressed a critical issue affecting community colleges. Event co-sponsors include the National Council of Instructional Administrators, the National Council for State Directors of Community Colleges, and the National Council for Continuing Education and Training. The national competition will be held February 25 - 27, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas. The 2024 Legacy Award recipient will be announced at the event.

The CCFA convenes annually as an independent national forum for innovators to work as a think tank. It identifies successful responses to critical issues facing the future of community colleges and hosts its national Bellwether Award competition annually.

Visit the Bellwether College Consortium website for more information, bellwethercollegeconsortium.com, or email rmartinez1702@alamo.edu.