FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – The MetroWest College Planning Collaborative – a joint college access initiative founded by Framingham State University and MassBay Community College – has been awarded $600,000 from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation to launch an innovate new program designed to help underrepresented students and their families achieve college and career success.
The MetroWest Scholars Early-Start Program aims to reach students and families at Framingham and Milford High Schools starting in 8th grade, by exposing them to in-demand professional fields and career pathways, including business, sociology/criminology, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and education.
In 9th grade, students will begin taking exploratory classes, and hear from scholars about the different fields and what it means to work in them. By 10th grade, students will pick a specialized pathway to pursue and dig deeper into a career track.
“Students will be exposed to a comprehensive career exploration that will prime them for employability and economic stability post-graduation,” says Colleen Coffey, Executive Director of the College Planning Collaborative.
Ultimately, students in the program would graduate from high school with 12 college credits already achieved and a foundation that will enable them to succeed at a 2-year or 4-year college.
The new initiative is made possible thanks to 3-year, $600,000 grant from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, which is committed to effecting permanent positive change in the lives of the residents of Greater Boston, particularly individuals and families in economically disadvantaged communities.
“We are so grateful to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for providing this generous support of a truly innovative new program that aims to better serve underrepresented students and their families,” says Framingham State University President F. Javier Cevallos.
The money will be used for a variety of efforts needed to get the new initiative off the ground, including curriculum development and alignment, student and family recruitment, and career exploration opportunities.
“Our model is unique in that high school teachers and college professors will work in tandem and co-teach these dual enrollment courses in the future,” says Coffey. “We begin in 8th grade, so students and families can look at this pathway at an earlier age when they are still developing and making decisions about what kind of high school experience they want to work toward.”
The concept of the MetroWest Scholars Early-Start Program was developed in partnership with leaders at Framingham Public Schools and Milford Public Schools.
“We are extremely excited for the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation’s support in this initiative, which will significantly impact student futures, helping them build a solid foundation in middle school and transitioning them to a strong and focused path to college and beyond,” said MassBay Community College President, Dr. David Podell. “We are proud to collaborate even more deeply with a great partner, Framingham State University, to provide educational opportunities to the MetroWest region.”
"Milford High School is very excited to work with Framingham State University and MassBay Community College to provide our students with the resources and support that will help them achieve to their fullest potential, and we are grateful to the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for supporting this critically important work,” said Milford High School Principal Joshua Otlin. “Together, we are going to provide students and families with truly transformational opportunities!"
“The MetroWest Scholars Early Start Program is a wonderful example of what can occur when institutions work together to ensure educational equity for all students,” added Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Robert Tremblay. “Through this initiative, first generation, under-represented students will receive the tools and support they need to transition successfully from middle school and high school into college. I want to thank the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation for making a tremendous investment.”