Event Recap | Advancing the Goal: What is needed for Early College Expansion

On Tuesday, March 8th, MassINC, Latinos for Education, MBAE, and the newly-launched Massachusetts Alliance for Early College co-hosted a virtual legislative briefing on Massachusetts’ Early College Initiative with the chairs of the Joint Committees on Education and Higher Education.

The virtual convening featured remarks from Higher Education Committee co-chairs Gobi and Rogers, as well as Education Committee co-chairs Lewis and Peisch. Their continued dedication to expanding Early College programs across the state has made it possible for nearly 4,500 students to earn free college credits during high school. We also heard from Commissioner Jeff Riley, whose leadership at the Department of Early and Secondary Education has also played a crucial role in equitably expanding this initiative.

Launched jointly by the Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education in 2016, the Massachusetts Early College Initiative seeks to close growing socioeconomic gaps in college completion. Data presentations by Erika Giampietro, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance for Early College, and Ben Forman, MassINC’s Research Director, demonstrate that Early College IS working. 63% of Early College students in the class of 2020 enrolled in college within six months of graduating high school as opposed to only 43% of their peers. Early College is also reaching the students that need it most. From 2019 to 2021, the number of economically disadvantaged students enrolled doubled each year and the number of Black and Latino students enrolled increased by 73% from year to year. Dive into these figures by downloading the presentations below. 

In addition to featuring remarks from legislators and impressive data, the briefing included first-hand testimonies from Sabi Marte, a former Lawrence Early College student now at Merrimack College, and Superintendent Pat Tutwiler of Lynn Public Schools. Their inspiring accounts of the impact they’ve seen Early College make in students’ lives led to a deep discussion on what it will take to grow this initiative to a significant scale. MBAE’s Executive Director Ed Lambert led the discussion with Erika Giampietro, Ben Forman, and 21C’s Tripp Jones, all members of the Massachusetts Alliance for Early College.

Latinos for Education’s Manny Cruz closed the conversation with a call to action. While the state legislature doubled the budget for Early College programs last year, there’s still work left to do to make good on the promise. To stay on track growing these programs to scale, the budget must increase to $19 million in FY 2023, with additional funding for two line items: 

  • $9M in the Dual Enrollment Grant and Subsidies, or “CDEP”, line item (7066-0019), $8M of which is for Early College, consistent with the recommendations of the Board of Higher Education and the Early College Joint Committee to fund credit reimbursements for the state’s Higher Education Institutions. 
  • $10M in the Early College line item (7009-6600) to stimulate growth and quality via planning, implementation and growth grants, and program support and review.  

We hope we can continue to count on the legislature’s support to expand quality Early College programs for students that need it most. Stay tuned for future Early College convenings and stay informed by following the Massachusetts Alliance for Early College on social media. 

Additional materials:

Explore our advocacy packet | Here’s a handy folder featuring fact sheets, student testimonies, press hits, and more. Follow this link for access and learn about the beginnings and growth of Early College in Massachusetts.

Download presentations | Dive into the enrollment data and budget figures shown during the event.

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