The Alamo Colleges George E. Killen Community Education & Service Center is located at 201 W. Sheridan St.
Alamo Colleges will be eliminating debt for some students as part of the "Fresh Start" program. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The Alamo Colleges District became the first community college system to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, a national accolade that recognizes “sustainable excellence through visionary leadership, organizational alignment, systematic improvement, and innovation.”

Alamo Colleges was one of 12 organizations from 27 applicants that received a site visit and one of only four in education. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced five award winners on Thursday morning.

The Baldrige program focuses on performance excellence and helping U.S. organizations improve their performance. The award is the highest level of national recognition that a U.S. organization can achieve for performance excellence, according to the Baldrige website.

The award emphasizes five areas: product and process outcomes, customer outcomes, workforce outcomes, leadership and governance outcomes, and financial and market outcomes.

The five award winners included the Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, and the nonprofit Donor Alliance in Denver. Ross said the honorees strengthen the economy through “organizational excellence and positive impacts for its customers, students, patients, and employees.”

Award decisions are made using the Baldrige Excellence Framework. In October, Alamo Colleges officials met with a team of judges to write a report on strengths and weaknesses in leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, knowledge management, workforce focus, operations focus, and results.

“This award was made possible by the hard work and dedication of our outstanding faculty, administrators, and staff who collaborated effectively for many years to bring us to this moment,” Alamo Colleges Chancellor Mike Flores said.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.