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Early College Program Expanded in Boston

To ensure that all Boston Public Schools (BPS) students have access to early college opportunities, the City is increasing school participation and seeking a competitive state grant.

Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Schools (BPS), in partnership with higher education institutions and employers across Boston, announced today the addition of six new Early College and Innovation Pathway programs for the 2022-2023 school year. These programs will provide new opportunities for BPS students to gain career-oriented college credits and work experience while still in high school in fields ranging from life sciences and health care, to computer science and finance. The City also announced that BPS is seeking a competitive grant from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) that would allow Boston to develop a consortium model to expand Early College and Innovation Pathway opportunities to thousands of students across the district. The application is designed to consider how more BPS schools and higher education institutions can partner to offer early college programs to students without seeking individual state designations. 

“Expanding access to early college and career will help connect Boston’s young people with the limitless opportunities of our most innovative sectors, from life sciences to healthcare and tech,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Every BPS student should experience college and career opportunities while they are still in high school—earning credits and gaining valuable professional experience that will help ease the transition after graduation. I thank the colleges and companies that are already working with BPS and call on the broader higher education and business community to join us.” 

The additional programs that will be offered next school year are:

Early College Pathways

  • Computer Science and Engineering programs at New Mission High School
  • Entrepreneurship program at Fenway High School

Innovation Pathways

  • Health Sciences pathway at Brighton High School
  • Business-Finance pathway at Excel High School
  • Biotechnology pathway at Jeremiah E. Burke High School

Early College provides high school students with the opportunity to experience and complete 12 college credits while simultaneously gaining exposure to a variety of college majors and career opportunities. Innovation Pathways give students coursework and experience in a specific high-demand industry, such as biotechnology, life sciences, healthcare, information technology, engineering, and advanced manufacturing. Innovation Pathways provide students technical coursework, credentialing, and work-based learning experiences, including a 100-hour-internship or several capstone projects in a specific, high-demand industry in Boston. Students take two technical courses in their high school and two advanced courses, including the option of dual enrollment in college courses. 

BPS and the City of Boston intend that all programs are closely tied to opportunities in the city’s growth sectors and are tied to internships and other work opportunities with Boston employers. Studies have consistently shown that Early College programs reduce the time and expense of earning a college credential while increasing the likelihood of completion. Early College is especially beneficial for students who may be first-generation college attendees, or students who come from other marginalized communities and may not see themselves as potential college students. 

"By participating in early college, I got a head start on learning the necessary skills for today’s workforce,” said Alessia Martínez, a junior at Dearborn STEM Academy and in the Health Sciences Pathway. “The new challenges and opportunities that I was given opened my eyes to my potential and it allowed me to grow into a responsible and motivated student. If students took at least one college class I think they would realize that they are more than capable of taking rigorous college courses that set them up for future success."

“The early exposure to college is helpful in determining what you want to do in your future job,” said Juan Geronimo Ortiz, a junior at Dearborn STEM Academy in the Computer Science Pathway. “Students are put in a new environment completely different from the world they know as high schoolers. The exposure allows students to reach their full potential once they get to college while becoming comfortable within their own ability to achieve academic excellence. The lessons and takeaways you get from dual enrollment courses go beyond school, they’ll stick with you for life.”

“Early College and Innovation Pathways are a vital part of our work in BPS to ensure our students have access to high impact, high quality programs that prepare them for success after they graduate from high school,” said Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. “Building a variety of programs across the district benefits not just our students — it benefits our neighborhoods, employers and regional economy, too.”

"As public servants, our success is measured by the quality of the world we leave for the next generation. We have an obligation to ensure that our young people are prepared to emerge into the professional world,” said City Councilor Julia Mejia. “That is why our office has been vocal about uplifting professional development, supporting vocational education, and intentional around creating more STEM opportunities for Black and Brown students in Boston. We are thrilled to see that urgency around professional development reflected in the expansion of early college programs."

“At State Street, we want to hire BPS grads and broaden opportunities for the residents of our home city. We see career-aligned Early College as one core strategy to help Boston students gain tangible experience and skills that will help them become our next employees,” said Ron O’Hanley, Chairman and CEO of State Street, which has committed to 40 BPS student internships through the Boston Private Industry Council this summer. “We applaud Mayor Wu and BPS for committing to this expansion.” 

“Wentworth is proud to be the only private university working with BPS to provide crucial opportunities for college and career readiness and enrichment for Boston Public School students,” said Mark A. Thompson, President of Wentworth Institute of Technology. “We’re looking forward to expanding our collaboration with Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston Public Schools, and industry partners to give BPS students the opportunity to participate in various classes at the institution and build their experience and comfort with a variety of technical and non-technical fields of study.”

Mayor Wu and Boston Public Schools leadership are committed to expanding access to Early College at an accelerated rate. The City has been working in close collaboration with Boston’s higher education institutions, major employers, and youth-serving community organizations to ensure every student has the chance to access this transformative opportunity.

Early College and Innovation Pathways have demonstrated success in Boston Public Schools including: Charlestown High School, which has Early College programs in Business, Health Sciences & Tech with Bunker Hill Community College; Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, which has a General Studies Early College program with Roxbury Community College & Bunker Hill Community College; Dearborn STEM Academy, which has Innovation Pathways in Engineering & Computer Science and Early College programs in Health & Life Sciences with Wentworth Institute of Technology; and Excel High School, which has an Innovation Pathways for information technology. 

In addition to the program expansion, Boston Public Schools has applied for the Early College Incubator Planning Grant, a competitive grant run by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that would allow Boston to study the creation of a consortium model to expand Early College and Innovation Pathway opportunities to hundreds more high school students every year. The grant would allow BPS high schools to collectively partner with institutions of higher learning on Early College and Innovation Pathways programming.

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