The office of U.S. Congresswoman Katherine Clark has announced a federal appropriation of $600,000 to Framingham State University and MassBay Community College to expand its innovative MetroWest Scholars Early Start Program within Waltham Public Schools.

The Early Start program is overseen by the MetroWest College Planning Collaborative, a joint initiative of Framingham State and MassBay. The program aims to reach low-income and underrepresented students and families 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.

Students in the program are exposed to college level courses and earn real credit toward their college degree prior to graduating from high school.

“We are so grateful to Congresswoman Katherine Clark for her support of our efforts to expand Early College opportunities in Waltham Public Schools,” says Framingham State President F. Javier Cevallos. “Early College programs are one of the best tools we have for improving outcomes and college going rates for underserved students and families.”

“We thank Congresswoman Katherine Clark for her leadership and investment in the Early Start program,” said MassBay President David Podell. “The Early College program has already proven itself in Framingham and Milford, giving students and their families a solid foundation to becoming life-longer learners, while building a career path. We are excited to broaden opportunities to teens in Waltham, ensuring those students have the support they need to succeed in college and beyond.”

After early success with the program in Framingham and Milford Public Schools, the program is now expanding into the Waltham Public School system, which has a rapidly changing demographic. As housing prices in Boston increase, more and more lower income families are making their homes in Waltham. More than 50 percent of students at Waltham High are high need and 50 percent do not speak English as their first language. About 42 percent are low income, up from 20% just five years ago. Currently, 67% of graduates go to college, but only 30% complete.

The program will start by serving 60 students at the 8th grade level in Waltham and will scale up over five years to serving 300 students per year in 8th grade through senior year.

“The need for more early college programs in Waltham is clear,” says Roxana Marrero, director of MetroWest Early College. “We have spent two years building a successful Early College program with Framingham and Milford high and we expect to scale a similar program at Waltham High.”

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

MassBay Community College is the most affordable higher education option in MetroWest Boston, offering a robust portfolio of courses and more than 70 associate degree and certificate programs with flexible day, evening, and weekend classes in Ashland, Framingham, Wellesley Hills, and online. MassBay students receive an unmatched educational value by earning stackable credits that transfer to bachelor’s degree programs, and workforce-ready skills necessary to advance careers in high-demand fields such as health and life sciences, automotive technology, engineering, business, cybersecurity, and the humanities. MassBay’s Associate Degree in Nursing (RN) and Practical Nursing (LPN) programs were both ranked as the #1 Nursing Program in Massachusetts in 2020-2021 by national nursing advocacy organizations, and Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and remains firmly committed to its mission of meeting the needs of the diverse local communities it serves. We value the intrinsic worth of all individuals, collectively in pursuit of inclusiveness and prioritize our work towards achieving equity within our community and beyond.

Original story HERE