East County educators are celebrating a $1.5 million state grant to further the work of the East County Education Alliance, a three-year partnership between the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College and Grossmont Union High School districts to help students make the transition to higher education.
As one of only 14 community college districts statewide to garner the California College Promise Innovation Grant from the state Chancellor’s Office, district officials say the funding affirms the collaborative efforts of East County’s public education entities.
“This is fabulous news,” said college district Chancellor Cindy L. Miles, “To have been awarded the maximum $1.5 million is great recognition for our years of work in building the East County Education Alliance. These funds allow our districts to continue the innovative work that will open unprecedented opportunities for high school students in East County.”
The two-year grant will fund the Alliance’s Jumpstart Program, which will include outreach efforts like college campus visits, Parent Nights, mentoring programs and career workshops to introduce ninth through 12th-grade students to the demands and expectations of college and careers. It will also be used for an online student support and data collection system to improve student retention and completion rates.
The cornerstone of the Alliance, created in 2014 to smooth the transition between high school and college, is the Higher Edge Promise Scholarship, which will offer a free year of classes at Grossmont or Cuyamaca College to high school graduates, beginning with the class of 2019, who follow the Jumpstart steps to receive a Higher Edge Promise Scholarship.
The promise scholarship was created to provide a pathway to higher education and to better prepare students for college by increased articulation between the college and high school districts.
The Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges has launched a major philanthropic effort to establish an endowment so that the Higher Edge Promise Scholarship will continue in perpetuity. In addition to funding the Jumpstart Program, the state Promise Grant will provide $100,000 for the scholarships.
The Alliance is unique in that its work is much broader than offering a free year of college, a factor that is believed to have played heavily in the college district’s favor in competing for the Promise grant. In addition to offering the scholarship, the college and high school districts are working to better align their curricula, developing programs to engage and encourage high school students to attend college, and increasing dual enrollment efforts so more students can take college classes while still in high school. The districts are also developing programs that will engage parents and the community with the Alliance’s work.
“The East County Education Alliance is such important work for Grossmont Union High School District's high school students,” Superintendent Tim Glover said. “The California College Promise Innovation Grant provides hope to our students, guiding them toward greater access and a clearer path to their futures.”
As outlined by the state Chancellor’s Office, the College Promise programs “are partnerships which align local K-12 school districts, community colleges, and public university segments to provide clear pathways for students to follow in order to achieve their educational goals.”
The grant will brought before the state community colleges Board of Governors March 20-21 for formal approval.
For more information about the work of the East County Education Alliance, go to www.eastcountyeducationalliance.org. To donate to the Higher Edge Promise, go to www.higheredgepromise.org