The Long Beach College Promise partners have earned a $5 million prize as part of California Gov. Jerry Brown’s Awards for Innovation in Higher Education. The award recognizes innovations that smooth transitions from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. The prize also rewards colleges and universities that have improved the ability of students to achieve a bachelor's degree in four years. The Long Beach College Promise achieved one of the highest scores among the state’s 58 applicants.
“We're excited to receive this significant funding and the recognition that comes with it,” said Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser of the Long Beach Unified School District. “The Long Beach College Promise truly is an innovative, collaborative effort that is getting great results for students. We look forward to using these needed resources to further our important work.”
The Promise began in 2008 as a collaboration among LBUSD, Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach to increase the success of local students in higher education. The City of Long Beach joined the partnership last year, with a focus on early education and internships.
"We are delighted that Governor Brown has recognized how the strength of this partnership, across different institutions, is leading to greater success among our students as they complete their higher education goals,” said LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “As we expand the vision of the Long Beach College Promise to meet President Obama's challenge in his proposal for America’s College Promise, this prize will help us get to the next level.”
As part of the Promise, every LBUSD student visits LBCC and CSULB during their fourth and fifth grade years. Upon graduation from high school, students are guaranteed a free semester at the community college, and CSULB guarantees admission to all Promise students who complete college admission requirements.
“I want to thank Governor Brown for his vision in creating the Innovation Award,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. "If widely replicated, the College Promise has the potential to create a sea change in the way California delivers education to millions of students. We estimate that by reducing time to degree a single semester, our students could defray about $10,000 in college related costs. This is a win-win for our region, and as we scale-up these practices, it will be a win-win for the state and nation.”
Since the inception of the Long Beach College Promise:
• More than 58,940 LBUSD middle school students have completed a College Promise education plan and signed a pledge to prepare for college;
• More than 33,500 LBUSD fourth graders have visited LBCC, and 35,200 LBUSD fifth graders have visited CSULB;
• The numbers of LBUSD students successfully completing transfer level math and English at LBCC have increased by 300 percent and 260 percent respectively.
• More than 9,800 students have taken advantage of the free semester at LBCC.
• LBCC's alternative assessment model has saved students from having to take remedial courses that would have required an additional 1,200 semesters to complete at a cost of $498,732. By reducing remediation even further during the senior year of high school, these savings could easily triple within two years.
• The number of LBUSD graduates enrolling in CSULB has increased by 43 percent, and students are arriving better prepared to succeed.
“I’ve made education my top priority as mayor, and I am honored and proud that Long Beach has received this recognition and these additional resources,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This is further evidence that the Long Beach College Promise is an outstanding, effective program, and it’s also a great opportunity to expand and enhance the support we provide to our students.”
Long Beach’s award is part of a $50 million fund designated in the 2014-15 state budget. All of California’s community college, California State University and University of California campuses were eligible to apply and compete for the prize.