The Long Beach Unified School District celebrated the first anniversary of its College Promise this week, with more than 15,000 middle school students joining thousands of other students across California who are signing the “Save Me a Spot in College” pledge.
These students pledge to work hard, stay in school, and take the steps they need to make it to college. The State of California promises to uphold its end of the bargain – to make sure there is a spot in college and financial aid available when they get there.
The statewide event coincided with the first anniversary of Long Beach’s own College Promise, an agreement signed by the leaders of LBUSD, Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach. The agreement promises all students an opportunity to attend college and provides numerous education benefits to help them get there.
As part of the anniversary celebration, 27 eighth graders were awarded college scholarships ranging from $50 to $500.
Long Beach is one of the first four school districts in California to launch the state’s Early Commitment to College program.
“With Early Commitment to College, we are giving California’s students the information they need to make it to college, the hope that they can succeed, and the promise from their school and from the state that we will help them to get there,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.
ECC creates a new tool for California school districts to motivate and support young people in middle school and high school to achieve academically, finish high school, and pursue career technical or degree programs at community colleges or universities. The bill that created Early Commitment to College, SB 890, was sponsored by the non-profit Campaign for College Opportunity.
ECC is run out of the California Department of Education in collaboration with higher education and financial aid agencies and is voluntary for California school districts. Early Commitment to College builds upon existing programs, but packages these opportunities into one commitment made to students at an early age.
ECC provides school districts a communication tool from the California Department of Education to be used with sixth to ninth grade students and their parents so that they understand the college opportunities and financial aid available to them. The core element of the program is the “Save Me a Spot in College” Pledge, to be signed by students and their parents, outlining their agreement to take the steps to finish high school and prepare for college.
These students would gain access to UC and CSU, if they meet the eligibility requirements and apply. They would be guaranteed the opportunity to attend a California Community College. It is inclusive of career technical and college preparatory classes in middle school and high school, and of career technical and degree programs in college.
The Long Beach College Promise provides a variety of educational benefits and services including: a tuition free semester at Long Beach City College for LBUSD students by 2011; guaranteed admission to CSULB for students who complete minimum college preparatory or minimum community college transfer requirements; and early and continued outreach, with all three institutions beginning student and family outreach services in sixth grade and continuing them through college to ensure college entrance requirements are fulfilled and students are successful.