Long Beach College Promise Awarded $5 Million Prize for Innovation in Higher Education

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The Long Beach College Promise has earned a $5 million prize as part of California Governor Jerry Brown’s Awards for Innovation in Higher Education. The Award recognizes innovations in higher education that smooth academic transition points for students moving from elementary and secondary education to postsecondary institutions. It also rewards colleges and universities that have measurably improved the ability of students to achieve a bachelor’s degree over a four-year period. The Long Beach College Promise achieved the highest score 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 Long Beach College Promise began in 2008 as collaboration between the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and California State University, 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 Long Beach City College 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 College Promise every Long Beach Unified School District student is required to visit both Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach during their fourth and fifth grade years. Upon graduation of high school, students are guaranteed a free semester at Long Beach City College, 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 California State University, Long Beach 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. Through the Promise, the needs of students take precedence over institutional silos and this seamless approach results in significant benefits for students and families. 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 number of LBUSD students successfully completing transfer level math and English at LBCC have increased by 300% and 260% 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% % and students are arriving better prepared to succeed.
  • The Partnership predicts it can reduce time to degree for one-quarter of transfers from LBCC by one semester. These changes would affect nearly 600 students per year, bringing financial benefits to currently enrolled students and their families, and would expand access for prospective students at no additional cost to the state.
  • Since the cost of attendance at CSULB is estimated at $20,000 per year (tuition, fees, living expenses) students who reduce time to degree by one semester would save about $10,000 each in avoided costs of attendance.

“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 colleges, CSU and UC campuses were eligible to apply and compete for the prize.

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