By Tilynn King / Staff Writer
Twitter: @bgrownlilies

Middle school students were awarded 25 scholarships during the Long Beach College Promise celebration that included a White House official at the LAC on Thursday, Sept. 24.
The partnership links LBCC, the Long Beach Unified School District, Cal State Long Beach and The City of Long Beach.

Jerrod Gregory, 25, an art major who was present, said, “I think that free tuition is a very great thing. It could get a lot of former students to return who otherwise wouldn’t and it could make more students come who hadn’t before. I think that it’s a very positive partnership.”

Under the Long Beach College Promise, college seniors will be offered two semesters of tuition-free education. The LBUSD has increased admission and enrollment by 35 percent and almost 12,000 students received one free semester of college at LBCC, officials said.

The 2015 annual report event highlighted the success and direction the partnership has had since joining together in 2008.

LBCC President Eloy Oakley, Mayor Robert Garcia, CSULB President Jane Close Conoley and LBUSD Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser all spoke to a crowd of about 300 students from all levels, parents and employees.

Oakley said, “The most important steps we can take to help students attain a higher education is to remove barriers. We want to make LBCC more accessible to LBUSD students as we continue to fulfill our part of the Long Beach College Promise.”

The leaders awarded 25 scholarships to middle school 8th graders who have shown high academic improvement. The scholarships awarded ranged from $50 to $250. California Gov. Jerry Brown awarded a $5 million prize from state funds to the Promise for innovation in higher education, which will be used to provide new technology and expand opportunities for students in underprivileged communities. The funds will also be used to obtain counseling and guidance for those students.

Garcia said, “I want to say that this community should be proud that it has been a model. This program has been a model nationally. When you hear the president talk about America’s college Promise, know that it links directly back to the work that started here in Long Beach.”

The Promise is a model that helped shape President Obama’s America’s College Promise initiative.
Results detailed in the Promise report stated that over the past four years, the increase in admissions requirements at the K-12 level has been 7 percent. An expansion in early childhood programs was also noted. About 800 preschool seats opened in the last year and $96 million in scholarships and grants were earned by LBUSD graduating seniors in the current school year.

More information is available by visiting the Long Beach College Promise website at longbeachcollegepromise.org.