Education leaders from the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach announced this week the creation of the Long Beach College Promise, a guarantee to Long Beach students of the opportunity to receive a college education. With the promise, all three education entities have made a joint commitment to make higher education an attainable goal for every Long Beach student, and it includes a variety of educational benefits and services. Most notably, the promise provides all incoming students at LBCC a tuition-free first semester by 2011, and it offers CSULB admission to those who complete minimum college preparatory requirements or minimum community college transfer requirements. The three institutions will assist students and families with the requirements by starting outreach services at the sixth-grade level and continuing them through the college transition. “Students who learn more will earn more,” said Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools for the Long Beach Unified School District. “In today’s complex society, a college education is more important than ever. That’s why we’re standing shoulder to shoulder with our fellow educators in higher education to give all of our students every opportunity for a brighter future.” Implementation of the “Long Beach College Promise” will begin in fall 2008 with the incoming sixth-grade class at all Long Beach district schools. The emphasis of the promise is on student readiness for both college and careers with a focus on promoting multiple pathways for the students. “Long Beach owes much of its nationally recognized success to the strong and effective partnerships the school district has built with Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach City College,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. “Now, Long Beach educators have raised the bar even higher, setting a standard of K-12/college collaboration that will serve as a model for many other districts nationwide. We applaud their efforts and encourage other school systems to learn from them.” The “Long Beach College Promise” is an extension of the city’s Long Beach Educational Partnership, which was created in 1994 and became a national model for its efforts to provide a “seamless education” for Long Beach students from preschool to graduate school. The partnership also aligned academic standards, teaching methods and student assessment across institutions to improve student achievement and teacher quality. “The Long Beach College Promise continues a historic partnership for our three institutions,” explained Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Long Beach City College is committed to providing financial assistance for the first semester to all Long Beach Unified students, as well as active assistance to those transferring to Cal State Long Beach, offering a world class college experience and high skill, high wage career pathways for all LBUSD students.” All three education leaders are especially pleased with the variety of opportunities that are available to LBUSD students, offering different postsecondary plans that these students may be interested in pursuing. Those options include the opportunity to go directly to a four-year university, to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year institution and to obtain vocational training, a technical education and professional certification. “This is a uniquely collaborative commitment to the young people of Long Beach,” noted CSULB President F. King Alexander. “We believe that every child in our community has the ability to attend an institution of higher learning and earn a college degree.” He added, “The Long Beach College Promise has been created to achieve two important objectives. First, it demonstrates our collective responsibility as educators to prepare our greatest natural resource, our children and students, to succeed in life and to become the economic foundation of Long Beach for decades to come. Second, it recognizes our collective commitment as citizens and community members to supporting our Long Beach children through public education and various other means of support.” Beginning in the sixth-grade and continuing through each student’s senior year in high school, LBUSD is committed to providing information, services and resources to help Long Beach students and their families prepare for college. That assistance will include learning about college opportunities, visiting college campuses, learning about and taking college preparatory courses, preparing for college, applying for college admission and learning about and applying for college financial aid. LBCC is offering a tuition-free first semester of higher education to all LBUSD students who choose to attend its institution after graduating from high school. Additionally, it will offer active assistance in: transitioning from high school and succeeding in college or career; having opportunities to seek vocational training, technical education and certification in numerous fields; as well as completing requirements and applying for transfer to a four-year university. CSULB, meanwhile, promises that all LBUSD and LBCC students will be offered help in applying for admission to the campus, transitioning from high school or community college and succeeding at CSULB, meeting requirements for a bachelor’s degree and preparing for careers and graduate school. At the same time, the partnership has set a number of goals for the next 10 years. Among those goals are: increasing the percentage of LBUSD students who are prepared for and attend college directly from high school; increasing the percentage of LBCC students who earn degrees and/or career and technical certificates; and increasing the percentage of CSULB students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree and/or advanced degrees.