Calling all community college students, here’s your chance to shine!

The American Association of Community Colleges in partnership with the National Science Foundation, has launched its platform to advance student innovation and impact in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics through the Community College Innovation Challenge.

The Competition

The competition seeks to foster the development of students’ innovation, communication, and entrepreneurial skills. It also enables students to discover and demonstrate their capacity to use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to make a difference in the world and translate that knowledge into positive action.

The CCIC is a national competition where community college student teams, working with a supportive faculty or administrator mentor, use STEM to produce potentially transformative and innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Teams of two to four students are invited to submit proposals, and up to 12 finalist teams will be selected to develop their proposals during an Innovation Boot Camp. Finalist teams will create and present an entrepreneurial pitch to a panel of professionals with a chance to win cash awards.

Given the rapid pace of technological advancement and the requirement of new skill sets to prepare for the future of work, students of today must be prepared to compete in an increasingly competitive, technological, and global market.

“The CCIC highlights the tremendous capacity of the nation’s community college students to tackle real-world issues and find creative and relevant solutions,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC in a news release. “The talent, creativity, and drive these students have is inspiring and the CCIC makes it possible for us to showcase and advance their work nationally. We are proud to continue this work with our partners at NSF and are grateful for their continuous support of community colleges and their students.”

Where it Happens

The Innovation Boot Camp is held in Washington, D.C.. It provides professional development, mentoring, and coaching designed to build strategic communication and entrepreneurial skills to help students advance their innovations in the private and public sectors. Students participate in sessions on commercializing ideas, using technology for social applications, communicating with stakeholders, refining a pitch, and more. The Innovation Boot Camp culminates in a poster session, a national engagement opportunity with STEM leaders and congressional stakeholders, and a pitch presentation in front of a panel of esteemed industry professionals to determine the first-, second-, and third-place winning teams.

AACC’s mission to build a nation of learners by advancing America’s community colleges aligns with the goals of the NSF’s Advanced Technological Education program to prepare students for meaningful employment in the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy. To further support this mission, the NSF funded the initial launch of the CCIC alongside AACC in 2015.

All team submissions are due by 11:59 pm PDT on April 2, 2024To learn more and apply, visit For questions, email

About AACC

As the voice of the nation’s community colleges, the American Association of Community Colleges delivers educational and economic opportunity for nearly 12 million diverse students in search of the American Dream. Uniquely dedicated to access and success for all students, AACC’s member colleges provide an on-ramp to degree attainment, skilled careers, and family-supporting wages. Located in Washington, D.C., AACC advocates for these not-for-profit, public-serving institutions to ensure they have the resources and support they need to deliver on the mission of increasing economic mobility for all.

About NSF

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments, and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With the fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities, and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

Source: American Association Of Community Colleges