We support two strong pathways from high school to work – Early College and Vocational Technical Education.

Career-oriented education can ensure that all students have the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to fully participate in today’s job market.

  • Seventy percent of jobs in Massachusetts will soon require more than a high school diploma. They will require career certifications or a college degree.
  • Of recent high school graduates, 55% are not likely to earn those credentials.
  • Only 20% of lower-income students are likely to earn those credentials.

Only by closing those significant and alarming gaps will Massachusetts have an economy where everyone has equal opportunity to a good job.

Strong pathways that enable students to earn valuable credentials on the road from high school to work can close those gaps.

Grants in this area are by invitation only.

Early College

A female Early College student listens during class at Merrimack College.

We have awarded approximately $12 million to leading public high school and college educators who have built many of Massachusetts’ pioneering Early Colleges.

Gold-standard evaluations in leading states show that Early College works. Early College benefits all students, but students who are lower-income and are the first in their families to go to college are twice as likely as their peers to earn their degree.

In a few short years, Massachusetts has built a strong foundation for Early College success and scale. The 2020-2021 school year will likely see approximately 7,000 students enrolled in 23 Early College programs, involving 37 high schools and 18 higher education institutions. Those numbers will continue to grow.

High school students in Early College take real college classes with strong career orientations during their regular school day, at no cost to them or their families.

They receive enhanced academic support and guidance to help them thrive in rigorous college coursework and in the unfamiliar college environment.

They graduate from high school with significant college credits, reducing the cost and time to degree. These students also graduate with the confidence, habits, and skills needed to be successful in college and career.

Early evaluations show that our Early College students are two times more likely to enroll immediately in college than their non-Early College peers.

Early College is a smart public investment. With $15 in returns for each dollar invested, no other known intervention to increase post-secondary completion provides a net return this large.

American Institutes for Research released a policy brief (PDF) on the benefits of Early College. See how Early College affects students’ postsecondary outcomes:

Vocational Technical Education

Vocational Technical Education in Massachusetts is world-class, but far too few students have access to it. There are thousands of students on waitlists.

With our support, leading vocational technical educators are increasing the number of students they can serve by adding a second school shift when their buildings and equipment are dark.

Students from communities across the state are now enjoying the high-quality vocational technical education they desire, on a 2:30-5:30 pm shift.

With this education, they earn credentials they need to get good jobs in high growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology.

Within a few short years, there will be thousands of additional students enjoying high-quality technical education programs (which is equivalent to building a new high school).