By Tricia Oliver, Chief of Staff
Last fall, Westfield State University welcomed its first class of 21 students who participated in the first two years of The Westfield Promise, the University’s early college program.
Designated as a Massachusetts Early College Program by the Board of Higher Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Early College Joint Committee in the summer of 2018, The Westfield Promise pairs Westfield State with public school systems in Westfield, Holyoke, and Springfield to provide an early college experience for underserved student populations. From the original 90 high school students who were members of the program’s Class of 2019, in addition to 21 Westfield State students, 37 enrolled in other four-year institutions, while 20 matriculated to two-year colleges.
As of July 2019, 131 high school juniors and 74 seniors are enrolled in the program. During the 2018-19 academic year, Westfield State accounted for 21 percent of the total student enrollment across all Designated Massachusetts Early College Programs among the nine state universities.
Westfield State University received an allocation of approximately $369,000 from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to support The Westfield Promise in calendar year 2019. The University has received $121,000 for fiscal year 2020 as of January, with potentially more funds currently pending.
In the midst of its third year, The Westfield Promise enables local high school juniors and seniors to earn up to 12 college credits by the time they graduate from high school, and it provides preferred admission to Westfield State. The majority (54 percent) of the student participants are first-generation college students, students of color (60 percent), and come from low-income families (62 percent.)
“This program provides exposure and insight to help early college students visualize themselves as bachelor degree candidates,” said Westfield State President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D. “It also preserves the University’s commitment to accessibility and our neighboring communities.”