2015 Aspen Prize
The 2015 Aspen Prize was awarded to Santa Fe College of Gainesville, Florida, for its exceptional work keeping students on track to graduate and transfer to four-year colleges or to find success in the workplace. The Joyce Foundation’s investment in community college improvement has contributed to the renewed national focus on these vital institutions. President Obama called the Aspen Prize “the Oscars of community colleges” when he delivered the commencement address at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, South Dakota—a three-time Aspen finalist and College of Distinction.
Deans for Impact
Deans for Impact is a new national organization composed of 24 leaders of teacher preparation programs committed to improving student-learning outcomes by transforming teacher preparation. The group intends to create a blueprint of what teachers need to know and be able to do once they enter K-12 classrooms, experiment with innovative practices, and focus training programs on using outcomes data – such as how well graduates perform once in K-12 classrooms – to improve teacher training. Transforming teacher preparation requires effort from an array of groups, but forward-thinking deans and leaders of non-traditional programs, such as Relay Graduate School of Education, are key to the endeavor.
GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Advancing gun violence prevention in Oregon
The state of Oregon recently strengthened protections against gun violence for victims of domestic abuse. Joyce-supported organizations in Oregon helped build public awareness about the potentially lethal link between domestic violence and firearms. While most felons are barred from having guns, a new state law taking effect in 2016 extends that prohibition to people convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or who are subject to a domestic abuse restraining order.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Clean energy is fulfilling its promise of creating new jobs while promoting cleaner air in the Great Lakes region. A 2015 report by Joyce grantee partner the Clean Energy Trust found that the state’s clean-jobs sector had grown by nearly eight percent in the previous two years to a total of 104,000 people. Energy efficiency leads the way, accounting for two-thirds of the state’s clean-energy jobs. Job creation is also growing in other sectors of the clean energy economy including wind, solar, geothermal power, electric or alternative transportation fuels, and greenhouse gas management.
Seitu Jones and Public Art Saint Paul received a Joyce Award to develop CREATE: The Community Meal, an event that took place in September 2014. With the support of local urban farmers, chefs, and other artists, CREATE is the culmination of Seitu’s yearlong listening project with residents within the St. Paul area. It was an incredible art happening – over 2,000 people dining at a table stretching across the city of St. Paul – and embodied Joyce’s deep commitment to new work that engages the community in the creative process.
Ranked Choice Voting
In 2009, FairVote Minnesota led a successful campaign to institute ranked choice voting for Minneapolis municipal elections. Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, which maximizes voter choice and creates an instant winner among multiple candidates. Reform advocates believed that by eliminating low-turnout primaries in favor of a system that encourages candidates to engage with more constituents, campaigns would be more positive and focused on problem solving. With support from Joyce, the FairVote Minnesota Foundation worked to educate voters in Minneapolis on the use of ranked choice voting in the 2013 election—the first election under ranked choice voting with an open mayoral seat. The results were impressive—with only one election, candidates spent more time talking to voters, campaigns ran few attack ads, and turnout was its highest for municipal elections in 12 years. Voters elected the first Somali, Latina, and Hmong council members in the city’s history.