SUNY’s Early College High School partnership with EDWorks and the State Education Department began when the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a $6 million grant to launch New York’s Smart Scholars Initiative in late 2009. The mission was to make earning college credits accessible to traditionally underrepresented high school students and motivate students to not only graduate high school, but also pursue a higher education.
Nationally, The Early College High School Initiative has had enormous success. Serving a population encompassing 77% students of color, 57% students from low-income households and 45% first generation college goers, the average early college graduate earns 36 credits or 30% of a Bachelors degree and 60% of an Associate’s degree.
New York State’s 23 Smart Scholars programs have made it possible for over 5,100 students to earn over 8,723 transferable college credits in just two years. In honor of ECHS Week and the accomplishments Smart Scholars state-wide, we would like to highlight our longest running Early College High Schools, including the nation’s oldest, Bard High School Early College.
Generation SUNY is happy to share with you one of the many exciting initiatives that the Office of the Education Pipeline is working on statewide. The Smart Scholars Early College High School (ECHS) Program brings together a powerful public/private partnership between SUNY, EDWorks, and the New York Department of Education. Through the program, higher education collaborates with public school districts or public charter schools to create Early College High School programs. These programs provide students who are traditionally underrepresented in post-secondary education with the opportunity, preparation, and support to accelerate the completion of their high school studies and graduate college and career-ready.
New York’s Smart Scholars have a head start toward a college degree and a successful career. While they are in the program, students receive additional academic support from the high school/college partnerships to make sure they are at grade level and ready to participate in rigorous high school and collegiate courses. As participants of the program, our ECHS students earn an average of 20 and up to 60 transferable college credits, and earn a Regents diploma. The result is increased high school graduation and college completion rates, reduced college tuition costs for families, and reduced time to complete a college degree.