The prizes, awarded to 20 FE and HE institutions throughout the UK, are given every two years for work judged to be of exceptional quality that brings benefit to the wider community. The college was recognised for the part it has played in helping to regenerate the east end of the city.
Ian Graham, principal of John Wheatley, expressed his "real pleasure": "The college has recognised the central role of education in community development and, by combining our own skills and energy with that of other agencies, we've helped to build capacity into the community, enabling residents to take the lead in the development and regeneration of their own communities."
Tribute was also paid by Catherine McMaster, chair of the local community planning partnership and a member of the college's board, who said the work of its staff was helping "to reduce the gap between subsistence and affluence".
The college is in the exalted company of former winners such as Edinburgh University and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.