The Alliance was created between the two East County districts in 2014 to make the high school-to-college or career transition more seamless. A major component of the program is the Higher Edge Promise, a scholarship that provides a free year of classes at Grossmont or Cuyamaca colleges to qualified East County high school graduates, starting with the class of 2019.
The Alliance is designed to encourage collaboration between the high school and college districts so more high school graduates are prepared to succeed in college and to continue in their education or to enter the workforce.
It is Hughes’ job to help make this a reality by collaborating with stakeholders, including educators, counselors, students, parents, local businesses, government agencies and the community, and letting them know about resources and ways to get involved.
“I am thrilled to have connected with an amazing group of leaders who are passionate about bringing a cultural change in the student success arena as we prepare students for college, career and community,” Hughes said. “The Alliance is working to ensure students have access to a world-class education from high school to college at a substantial cost savings. We provide an alternative to those for whom a direct path from high school to a four-year college isn’t realistic.”
In addition to preparing for the third annual East County Education Alliance summit set for Oct. 13, Hughes and others connected with the Alliance have been busy attending back-to-school nights and student orientations to draw attention to the Higher Edge scholarship and the work of the Alliance.
The new Alliance coordinator, who earned her bachelor’s in sociology from Point Loma Nazarene University, has been working for the college district for five years. She spent the last year helping to lead efforts to convert to a new districtwide technology system and previously served as operations coordinator for the district’s Continuing Education and Workforce Training program based at Cuyamaca College.
“I loved what I did with Continuing Education, helping the district work toward meeting the community’s educational needs,” said Hughes, an East County native who graduated from Granite Hills High School. “I enjoy working in education and getting out into the community to spread the word about the unique opportunities of the Alliance. It’s about our institutions collaborating to remove the obstacles that get in the way of young people furthering their education and launching careers. It will be wonderful to see high school students and parents identifying goals and then, realizing that they are obtainable.”
John Valencia, the district’s vice chancellor of Workforce and Organizational Development, said Hughes’ close ties to the community and her experience in project development made her ideal for her new position.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Amber’s caliber and intimate familiarity with East County coordinating the efforts of the East County Education Alliance,” he said.