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Westfield State receives Early College Implementation Grant for The Westfield Promise program

Westfield State University has received a $140,000 Early College Implementation Grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to continue The Westfield Promise program, which was officially designated as an early college program by the Department of Higher Education in May. The program aims to benefit underrepresented student populations, including first-generation and students of color.

Partnering with public high schools in Holyoke, Springfield, and Westfield, the program involves Westfield State faculty co-teaching a “stretch year” course with the high school faculty to high school juniors. As seniors, students then take courses on the University’s campus, providing the students with an early exposure to the rigor of collegiate study and the campus environment – enabling them to more clearly visualize themselves completing a four-year degree. As an additional measure, the students are supported with peer and professional tutors.

“By immersing high school juniors and seniors in the Westfield State University culture, college becomes more of an attainable reality,” said President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D. “The Westfield Promise students are already identifying themselves as Westfield State students, which is highly encouraging.”

Seventy-nine high school seniors and 119 juniors are participating in The Westfield Promise this year, a program which began last fall. Upon high school graduation, if the students meet the appropriate admissions criteria of the University, they will earn preferred admission and enhanced financial aid packages at Westfield State.

The partnership with Westfield State for this program has been well received by the administration of local school systems. Holyoke Public Schools Receiver/ Superintendent Dr. Stephen Zrike Jr. stated, “We are thrilled to partner with Westfield State through the Commonwealth’s early college designation. The Westfield Promise supports our commitment to ensuring that our students are prepared to excel once they graduate from the Holyoke Public Schools. Our students will have the opportunity to earn multiple credits, spend extensive time on the Westfield campus and engage in multiple college preparation experiences.”

Stefan Czaporowski, superintendent of Westfield Public Schools, agrees. “Westfield Public Schools is fortunate to continue our partnership with Westfield State University with this unique opportunity for students at Westfield High School and Westfield Technical Academy, said Czaporowski. “The grant received also ensures that our students are able to take advantage of college level coursework at no cost. The impact on our students participating in the Westfield Promise program is truly remarkable.”

Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Daniel Warwick said The Westfield Promise program provides great support for the district’s commitment to college and career readiness. “Springfield Public Schools is experiencing a significant increase in the number of seniors who graduate and become first-generation college students and we are grateful to partnerships like the one we have with Westfield State,” said Warwick. “We know this grant will go a long way in helping our students make college a reality.”

According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, during the 2018-19 academic year, nearly 1,500 students will be enrolled in designated early college programs around the state. By the following year, such enrollments are expected to jump to 2,280 students.