Wu, BPS announce expansion of Early College and Innovation Pathway programs

Mayor Michelle Wu on May 10 announced the expansion of the Early College and Innovation Pathway program, along with Boston Public Schools (BPS) and institutions of higher education.

According to a press release, “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.” For the Innovation Pathways programs, “students take two technical courses in their high school and two advanced courses, including the option of dual enrollment in college courses.”

Wu said that the Early College program was piloted in 2015 at Charlestown High School, and since then, students at the high school have earned more than 300 college credits, saving them “tens of thousands of dollars.”

The program has since expanded to the Dearborn STEM Academy, Excel High School, and Madison Park High School.

Wu announced that the program will be expanded to four additional schools. Starting next school year, the Early College Pathways program will be offered at New Mission High School with Computer Science and Engineering programs and Fenway High School with an entrepreneurship program.

The Innovation Pathways program will be offered at Brighton High School with a health sciences pathway, at Excel High School with a business and finance pathway, and at Jeremiah E. Burke High School with a biotechnology pathway.

“These programs have already helped hundreds of students pursue opportunities here in Boston, and there are thousands more of our young people who deserve this opportunity,” Wu said at the press conference.

“We are so grateful to the local colleges and universities who have partnered with us to get us here: Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College, Wentworth, and Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology for offering early college classes…”

Wu also said that “this early college opportunity gives students entry points into key sectors and careers right here in Boston,” including in life sciences, where Boston is a national leader, as well as health care, finance, computer science, and more.

“These are the spaces, jobs, and power centers that our BPS students deserve to step into.” Wu said.

City Councilor At-Large Julia Mejia, who chairs the Council’s committees on Education and Labor, Workforce, & Economic Development, said, “as the first person in my family to graduate high school and college, I understand how important this investment is and making sure that we’re setting our students up for success.” She continued, “When you have programs that are intentional and are designed specifically to give young people, especially first generation students, an opportunity to see what is possible and removing the barriers so that they can thrive, then that’s how we’re going to address the wealth gap that we’ve been talking about here in the City of Boston.”

BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said, “In BPS, we believe that increasing the breadth and the depth of early college programs and innovation pathways in our schools is a key strategy in continuing to accelerate student learning and raise academic rigor for our students.” 

Cassellius also spoke about the Early College Incubator Planning Grant, which BPS has applied for through the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

According to the release, the grant “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,” as well as “to allow BPS high schools to collectively partner with institutions of higher learning on Early College and Innovation Pathways programming.’

In a statement, Alessia Martínez, a junior in the Health Sciences Pathway at Dearborn STEM Academy, said, “By participating in early college, I got a head start on learning the necessary skills for today’s workforce. 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.”

For more information about the Early College and Innovation Pathways programs, visit bostonpublicschools.org/Page/8464.

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