Early College Designs

Reinventing High Schools for Postsecondary Success

Combining high school and college in a rigorous, supportive environment that enables struggling students to graduate with college credit and the tools for postsecondary success.

Joel Vargas
Vice President, School and Learning Designs
617.728.4446 x117


Early College High School Initiative

The Early College High School Initiative started in 2002, focusing on young people for whom the transition into postsecondary education is now problematic. Its priority was to serve low-income young people, first-generation college goers, English language learners, and students of color, all of whom are statistically underrepresented in higher education and for whom society often has low aspirations for academic achievement. The initiative increased the number of these young people who attained an Associate’s degree, two years of college credit, and/or the opportunity to attain a Bachelor’s degree—tuition free.

The Early College High School Initiative was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Dell Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, the Walton Family Foundation, and other local foundations.

Through the Early College High School Initiative, 13 partner organizations created or redesigned over 250 schools that blend high school and college. Jobs for the Future coordinated and supported the partners, and is still actively helping create and redesign early colleges through our Early College Design Services. We continue to collaborate with many of these partners to further early college as a national movement.

  • Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Center for Native Education
  • City University of New York
  • Educate Texas
  • Foundation for California Community Colleges
  • Gateway to College National Network
  • EDWorks
  • Middle College National Consortium
  • National Council of La Raza
  • North Carolina New Schools
  • SECME, Inc.
  • Utah Partnership Foundation
  • Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

See Schools for a list of current schools that were a part of the intiative.

Early College High School Student Information System

To help early college schools document the impact of these features and continuously improve practice at the classroom, school, and district levels, JFF created and maintained the Early College High School Student Information System to track a wide variety of data on student outcomes.

Launched in September 2004, SIS was a 10-year project to collect, warehouse, and create reporting and analytical tools to demonstrate the efficacy of early college high schools in preparing students who have been average or below average academic performers, or who are low income, first-generation, African American, Latino, Native American, or from other racial and ethnic groups for success in secondary and postsecondary education. The SIS also supported the information needs of key constituents of the Early College High School Initiative, including funders, school community, higher education partners, policymakers, education leaders, initiative partners, and evaluators.

The information collected allows comparisons over time and in relation to other schools locally and nationally. Schools, districts, and colleges have access to valuable data on high school and college courses taken by early college students, students’ scores on standardized assessments, students’ continued college enrollment following high school graduation, and many other factors essential to designing, operating, and improving practices and policies that lead to successful student outcomes.

For more information on the outcomes of early college schools, view the related publications below or learn more in Research.