NCAN Presents 2015 Awards of Excellence

September 29, 2015
By Amina Anderson Pringle, Member Services Manager

At its national conference in Orlando today, NCAN recognized four organizations with its annual Awards of Excellence in College Access and Success

Each year, NCAN solicits nominees for the awards from its membership. A committee of NCAN members reviews all nominations with final decisions confirmed by the NCAN board of directors. This year’s awards are sponsored by USA Funds, whom NCAN thanks for continuing to recognize college access and success leaders and supporting completion with a purpose. 

College Access Organization Award of Excellence
College Crusade of Rhode Island
Providence, RI

Founded in 1989, the College Crusade of Rhode Island was one of the first large-scale programs in the nation to provide long-term support for economically disadvantaged students combined with scholarship assistance. The organization serves more than 3,900 middle and high school students annually in several of Rhode Island’s urban communities well as more than 1,400 parents. Since 2001, the College Crusade has awarded over $30 million in college scholarships to more than 3,800 students.

The College Crusade is a high performing, data-driven organization that is committed to monitoring the effectiveness of its college readiness and persistence programs through multiple measures. In 2013, the high school graduation rate for Crusaders was 8 percentage points higher than the rate for non-Crusaders in Rhode Island’s urban school districts. That same year, the college-going rate for Crusaders was 28 percentage points higher than the rate for all urban students. In addition, between 2007 and 2011, first-year persistence rates for Crusaders in public colleges in Rhode Island were approximately 11 percentage points higher than the rates for all students (at all income levels) at these colleges and 6 percentage points higher than the rates for all students in Rhode Island’s private colleges.

The College Access Organization Award of Excellence recognizes the work of a college access/success program that is committed to college access and success so that all students, especially those underrepresented in postsecondary education, can achieve their educational dreams. The winner receives $5,000 toward general operating support, scholarships, and/or professional development, generously sponsored by USA Funds.

Executive Leadership Award of Excellence
Kim Mazzuca, 10,000 Degrees 
San Rafael, CA

Kim Mazzuca has served as the President and CEO of 10,000 Degrees since 1999. A Bay Area native and first generation college graduate, Kim has dedicated her life to social justice. For the past 16 years, she has led 10,000 Degrees through extensive growth to becoming one of the premier college access and success organizations in California for students from low-income households. 10,000 Degrees now serves more than 4,500 students each year in the North Bay and is growing. One hundred percent of its students are on track to graduate from college, and 84 percent of its students who attended a four-year university have graduated. 

In 2014, Kim was named a Nonprofit Leader of Year by the North Bay Business Journal and in 2015, she was named Legislative Woman of the Year for California’s 10th Assembly District. Kim has served on numerous community boards and is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Prison University Project at San Quentin. Kim also served as NCAN Board President for three terms, during which she contributed a valued member organization perspective and strategically drove the organization towards its equity goals.  

The Executive Leadership Award of Excellence recognizes the dedication and hard work of an individual serving as a college access program’s Executive Director, President, or as a member of its Board of Trustees or Directors. The winner receives a $1,000 award in support of a new, one-time scholarship made in his or her honor.

Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence
Troy Miller, Florida College Access Network 
Tampa, FL

Troy Miller exemplifies the mission of NCAN. As Associate Director for Research and Policy at the Florida College Access Network, his policy briefs have sparked calls for action and reform across the state. His innovative FAFSA completion and degree attainment tools have made data transparent and are used to track progress, not only for organizations, but for entire communities. Published several times, and even cited in a speech by President Obama, Troy is widely regarded as a brain trust on best practices and evidence-based programs. Troy’s colleagues say he is “committed to this cause of helping students gain the education they need to be successful in the future,” and he shares his expertise eagerly and generously with college access professionals throughout Florida. After completing college as a first-generation student himself, he went on to work as a college advisor and a near-peer tutor trainer and supervisor before joining Florida C.A.N. in 2010.

The Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence recognizes the dedication, hard work, and innovation of an individual working at a college access program. The winner receives $1,000 toward professional development. The award was named for Dr. Swedlow, former NCAN Director of Programs, after his passing and in honor of his commitment to the cause of college access.

To & Through Award of Excellence
Lone Star College System
The Woodlands, TX

Few institutions in the U.S. have focused as intently or consistently on student success as the Lone Star College System (LSCS). The largest higher education institution in the Houston/Gulf Coast region with an enrollment of 90,000 students, LSCS is nationally recognized, globally connected, and renowned for innovation and visionary thinking. Throughout its 40 year history, LSCS has been steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion, and is one of the only colleges in the nation to establish a formal Office of Completion.  LSCS partners with numerous NCAN members to support their students and was nominated for this award by College Forward, headquartered in Austin, TX.

Lone Star College also: 

  • Leads the Texas Reverse Transfer Initiative, a key strategy for increasing degree attainment, in collaboration with The University of Texas. 

  • Leads Texas Completes, a 35-member consortium that collectively educates 43 percent of the state’s community college students, in a statewide effort to dramatically increase college completion rates.

  • Collaborates with local community colleges and school districts in the Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success initiative, funded by the Houston Endowment, to support student access and success.
This year, NCAN established the To & Through Award of Excellence to recognize a higher education institution (or department within) that collaborates with an NCAN member college access/success organization to ensure that the organization’s students – as well as all enrolled underrepresented students– get the supports they need to complete a two-year or four-year degree. The recipient institution receives $1,000 for need-based scholarships and/or professional development.

The NCAN Board of Directors created the Awards of Excellence to recognize exceptional performance in college access organizations, staff, and executive or board leadership. All nominators and nominees, with the exception of the To and Through College Award, must be NCAN members or board members in good standing.

NCAN thanks the 11 members of the 2015 Awards Committee for their service:

  • Gwen Bankston, Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

  • Melissa Fries, Making Waves Foundation

  • Juan García, ACT

  • Cat Horzewski, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee 

  • Beth Lovain, Scholarship Fund of Alexandria

  • Lauren Olsen, Rutgers, The State University of NJ

  • Bonnie Sutton, Access College Foundation

  • Patricia Thomas, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

  • Kim Thomas-Barrios, University of Southern California, Neighborhood Academic Initiative

  • Gabriela Torres , OneGoal

  • Donna  White, The AnBryce Foundation

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