Established in 1995, the Bellwether Awards are a long-standing, respected award solely awarded to innovative community colleges. The rigorous award competition is an integral part of the Community College Futures Assembly where the 30 Bellwether Finalists are invited to present their program in a final round of competition among selected peer institutions. The Assembly is sponsored by the Alamo Colleges District and focuses on cutting-edge, trendsetting programs that are worthy of scaling and replication given their evidence-based outcomes and indicators. The Bellwether Awards are given annually in three categories to community colleges with outstanding and innovative programs or practices. Award categories are Instructional Programs and Services (IPS), Planning, Governance and Finance (PGF), and Workforce Development (WD).
The Bellwether Award has been compared to football’s Heisman Award because it is competitively judged and is awarded by respected peers in leadership positions. Recipients of the Bellwether Award have said that it has been a springboard for other types of recognition and/or funding.