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Gates’ Pennington receives AACC Truman Award

Hilary Pennington

Hilary Pennington, director for U.S. education–postsecondary success and special initiatives at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will receive the Harry S. Truman Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) during the association’s annual convention, which begins this week.

“For nearly 30 years, Hilary Pennington has worked tirelessly to promote and provide educational opportunities—often for the under-privileged and underserved,” said AACC President and CEO Walter Bumphus. “She is a passionate advocate for community colleges and oversees programs that are substantially impacting how we do business and set priorities in higher education.”

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Over the last four years, Pennington has led the foundation's Postsecondary Success initiative, which has made completion of postsecondary education a national priority. The initiative's team administers a $110-million annual grant program. Pennington and her staff have paid special attention to the opportunities and challenges facing America's community colleges in raising student completion rates.

In 2010, she assumed responsibility for the U.S. Libraries Program at the foundation, which helps libraries provide free computer and internet access to millions of low-income people who do not have home computers. The program awards $7 million in grants annually.

Pennington assumed responsibility for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a 10-year and $1-billion investment supporting undergraduate and graduate education for 20,000 high-achieving and low-income students of color.

In 2006, she led a foundation effort to build a national program promoting secondary access and success for low-income and minority youth. She continues to lead that program today, and it awards $5 million in grants annually.

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Pennington was the co-founder, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit organization helping states and national organizations understand the rapidly-changing education and skill requirements of a globally-focused economy and develop the policies and strategies to equip their citizens with skills for success in this new economy.

Pennington will receive the award during the AACC convention opening session on April 21.

Truman Award is given to an organization or individual who has had a major positive impact on community colleges at a national level. Previous recipients of the award included U.S. Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Coca Cola Company and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy. A full list of recipients is available online.