Contact us
Foundation for California Community Colleges

1102 Q Street
Suite 3500
Sacramento, CA 95811
T: 866.325.3222
F: 916.325.0844

About Us

Early college high schools are innovative partnerships between public or charter secondary schools and local community colleges that allow students to earn a high school diploma and two years of college credit in five years or less at no cost. Students begin taking college courses as soon as they show they are ready, and the credit earned can be applied toward completing an associate’s degree, qualifying for transfer to a four-year university, or earning certification in a vocation that provides a family-sustaining wage.
  Key Elements  
Early college high schools can be organized and operated in a variety of ways. The Foundation's early college high schools share the following key elements:
  1. Target students who historically have below-average high school and college graduation rates, e.g., first-generation college-goers, low-income populations, English-language learners, and ethnic minorities.
  2. Provide the opportunity for all students to earn a high school diploma and at least two years of college credit in five years or less. The two years of college credit should include: 1) an associate’s degree, 2) skills for a family-supporting job, or 3) eligibility to transfer as a junior to a four-year college or university.
  3. Enable students to begin college courses based on their performance—as soon as they are able and possibly as early as grade nine.
  4. Include a personalized learning environment with an effective student support network (e.g., counseling) to maximize student success.
  5. Be located on or near the partner community college campus where college services, facilities, and resources are available and welcoming to ECHS students. Other sites that provide significant access to the college campus will be considered.
  6. Reach out to middle school students to promote awareness of and preparation for ECHS.
  7. Be operationally and financially self-sustaining at the conclusion of the grant period.
  8. Be a separate school that, prior to opening, has its own California Department of Education school number. An ECHS may be a charter school.
  9. Have a maximum student enrollment of 400 by year five of the grant period.

  Core Principles  
The nationwide ECHS Initiative has established the following core principles.
  1. ECHSs are committed to serving students underrepresented in higher education.
  2. ECHSs are created and sustained by a local education agency, a higher education institution, and the community, all of whom are jointly accountable for student success.
  3. ECHSs and their higher education partners jointly develop an integrated academic plan so all students will earn one to two years of transferable college credit leading to college completion.
  4. ECHSs engage all students in a comprehensive support system that develops academic and social skills as well as behaviors and conditions necessary for college completion.
  5. ECHSs and their partners work with intermediaries to advocate for supportive policies and conditions for the early college high school movement.

  Our Role  
As an intermediary in the nationwide ECHS Initiative, the Foundation for California Community Colleges:
  • Selects the ECHS sites
  • Assists partnerships in school planning
  • Provides technical assistance and support once sites are selected
  • Coordinates the sharing of ECHS best practices, facilitates professional development, and promotes effective secondary–community college partnership development and capacity building
  • Works with state agencies and education groups to promote and support early college high schools and the ECHS model

Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter. See us on YouTube. Sign up for email updates.