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Project eXceed

Project eXceed - EXpanding College Enrollment through Early College Development

The George Washington Carver Education Foundation, committed to realizing a vision of educational equity and empowering students to unlock their fullest potential, presents Project eXceed - EXpanding College Enrollment through Early College Development. At the heart of the Carver Foundation's mission lies a profound commitment to providing every student, regardless of their socioeconomic background, with the opportunity to thrive academically and succeed in the pursuit of higher education. Project eXceed embodies this unwavering dedication by seeking to bridge the gap in educational access and attainment for New Jersey's underserved communities. Through this innovative initiative, the Carver Foundation aims to pave a transformative path toward higher education, where all students can not only meet but eXceed the expectations set for them, eXpand their opportunities, and eXit high school with valuable college credits, ensuring that they are well-prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future. This proposal outlines how Project eXceed will help realize these aspirations and continue the successful work initiated through the OMIC grant, ultimately striving to create a brighter and more equitable future for New Jersey's youth.

Target Population: 505 secondary schools in NJ with a focus on low-income students

Brief rationale for project proposal: Aligned with Governor Murphy and Secretary of Higher Education, Dr. Brian Bridges, the Biden-Harris Administration is dedicated to expanding high-quality dual enrollment programs, providing equitable postsecondary opportunities (USDOE, 2022). Dual enrollment has proven positive impacts on high school academics, graduation rates, college enrollment, and success (Berger et al., 2014; Edmunds et al., 2015; Giani, Alexander, & Reyes, 2014). Amid declining postsecondary enrollment and increasing job demands for postsecondary education, dual enrollment is vital for workforce preparation. Yet, historically marginalized learners, especially in lower-income communities, underutilize these opportunities. To bridge this gap, the Carver Foundation proposes formalizing dual enrollment in New Jersey through the early college high school (ECHS) model (Edmuds, Unlu, Glenie, & Arshavsky, 2022).

Brief description of project activities: Project EXCEED, led by the Carver Foundation, plays a crucial role in achieving New Jersey's state plan for higher education, which aims to equip every New Jerseyan with a high-quality credential for life after college by 2025 (OSHE, 2022). Building upon the work of the On-Ramps to College Working Group, where the Carver Foundation served as co-chair and helped to secure $1.4M in grant funding for its partners through OSHE's "Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge" (OMIC Grant), Project EXCEED's core mission continues to address the goals of On-Ramps to College by tackling three key challenges:

  1. Securing funding to offset costs for fee-free dual enrollment: Ensuring that students, especially those from low-income backgrounds, can participate in dual enrollment programs without financial barriers.

  2. Ensuring an adequate pool of qualified instructors: Recruiting and training instructors who can teach college-level courses in high schools.

  3. Enhancing student readiness (beginning in middle school) for college-level coursework: Preparing students for the rigors of college coursework from an early age.

Collaborating with institutions like Stockton University (Project ACCESS and the COACH Project), The College of New Jersey (IDEA Project), Salem Community College (IMPACT Project), and other ECHS partnerships with various LEAs (Local Education Agencies), the Carver Foundation presents promising pathways to advance the state's higher education vision.

Summary of project objectives and expected outcomes: Project EXCEED, building upon the On-Ramps to College Working Group's efforts, offers interested New Jersey high schools a 2-year statewide pilot (2024-2025 & 2025-2026) with a planning year in 2023-2024 to formalize early college high schools, expanding dual enrollment through Carver's five design principles:

  1. Cultivating a culture of care & respect: Fostering a supportive environment for students.

  2. Establishing collaborative student supports: Providing resources and assistance for students' academic and personal growth.

  3. Creating early college & career pathways: Offering structured pathways for students to earn college credits while still in high school.

  4. Strengthening powerful teaching & learning: Enhancing the quality of education through effective teaching methods.

  5. Evaluating growth & sustainability: Continuously assessing and improving the program's impact and long-term viability (Taylor, 2021).

This initiative aims to achieve greater outcomes in dual enrollment, dual credit accumulation, and college attainment after high school. As such, Project EXCEED will establish statewide ECHS programs, prioritizing low-income students and emulating successful state funding models, like the P-TECH model supported by Governor Phil Murphy. To accomplish this, Project EXCEED aims to secure funding for three project objectives:

  1. Supporting the OMIC-pipeline of students to continue dual enrollment: Ensuring that students who have already started dual enrollment can continue their studies.

  2. Formalizing ECHS programs in low-income districts for fee-free dual enrollment: Expanding access to early college programs in communities with financial barriers.

  3. Increasing qualified dual enrollment instructors and enhance student readiness through Carver's five design principles: Recruiting and training instructors while preparing students for college-level coursework.

The impact of Carver's five design principles on dual enrollment expansion and student success will be evaluated by the national Early College Research Center (ECRC) to investigate project and overall student success. Project EXCEED aims to bridge the opportunity gap for low-income students and contribute to the broader goal of increasing access to higher education in New Jersey.

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