The Why

What would it take for every high school student to have the opportunity to earn college credits without the financial burden?

To complete an associate degree one year after high school?

To gain valuable experience and career preparation in a field of interest during high school?

Two-thirds of today’s jobs require education and training beyond high school, making postsecondary credentials a prerequisite to achieving greater economic prosperity and social mobility.

Only 60% of Black and Latino high school graduates immediately enroll in a postsecondary program after high school. Furthermore, only 44% of Black students and 50% of Latino students earn a postsecondary degree or certification within six years.

High schools can provide early access to higher education in ways that incorporate work-connected learning to the benefit of students.
Yet, the number of schools that fully embrace coherent programs of study that connect K-12, higher education and employment remains frustratingly small.

The Solution

In recognition of the critical importance of building stronger, smoother, accelerated pathways between K-12 education, postsecondary education, and careers, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting multi-tiered efforts to build and scale these opportunities for students. This includes a regional accelerator (the Accelerate ED community), a national digitally-enabled model, and targeted local efforts in specific states and communities.

Across the different levels of work, these efforts are driven by core guiding principles:

Principle 1

Goal: Designed to enable young people to attain an associate degree within one year after high school leading directly to good jobs and/or further education towards a bachelor’s degree.

Principle 2

Program: Designed around an intentional, integrated curricular experience and integrated student supports.

Principle 3

Delivery Model: Designed to minimize transitions for students and ensure opportunities are available and equitably accessible for all students across the region and/or state.

Principle 4

Funding Model and Cost: Designed to ultimately be sustainable via public funding and affordable for students.

The How

At the regional level, the 12 Accelerate ED design teams are working to expand initiatives for students that improve college transition, persistence, and completion, and share a focus on helping students figure out their occupational aspirations, build social capital, and acquire relevant work experience.

Each Accelerate ED design team received a $175,000 grant to expand their existing programs and learn from one another over the course of an eight-month “design sprint.”

Learn more about their accomplishments