The Woodrow Wilson
Early College High School Initiative
At Woodrow Wilson, early college high school is all about opening doors to bachelor’s degrees for kids from underserved communities. From top liberal arts colleges to HBCUs to leading research universities, our higher ed partners—many drawn from the prestigious national network that Woodrow Wilson has built over the past 60 years—are actively engaging their faculty in these early colleges. And the local schools we work with make an energetic schoolwide commitment to innovation, from curriculum to teacher development to administration. But what’s most exciting is that the students in these early colleges are learning to see a four-year degree not just as a dream, but as a real possibility—in fact, a goal.
Vice President for
About the Woodrow Wilson Early College High School Initiative
Photo: Peg Skorpinski
Since 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has stood for excellence in education, promoting both individual opportunities and institutional partnerships that lead to college access for new populations. Over the past 20 years, Woodrow Wilson has also joined its legacy of excellence in higher education with a commitment to meet national needs in K–12. The Woodrow Wilson Early College High School Initiative, begun in 2003 and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, has supported 17 new small secondary schools nationwide, providing first-generation college-goers with rigorous academic preparation to enroll—and succeed—in college.
The Foundation partners public schools with their local colleges and universities, exploring innovative ways to ensure access to quality education for all students. Woodrow Wilson Early Colleges are developed by invitation and through a pre-affiliation review process. Woodrow Wilson’s 17 Early Colleges—including sites at Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, CUNY’s Hunter and Brooklyn Colleges, and a range of other respected colleges and universities—emphasize rigor for students, ongoing professional development for teachers, and rich scholarly engagement for the university faculty involved. These programs are also becoming important sites of teacher education, complementing the teacher education programs of Woodrow Wilson’s higher education partners.
Graduates of these early colleges, some of them with up to two years of college credit, are winning a range of college scholarships at respected institutions such as Grinnell and Lafayette colleges and Columbia University. Students at all of the Woodrow Wilson early colleges are successfully completing college courses and are on their way to entering four-year colleges with advanced standing. This approach makes it possible for first-generation college students—especially those from high-minority, under-served schools—to not only achieve academic excellence in their baccalaureate programs, but also to complete their degrees more quickly, helping them and their families overcome the obstacle of college costs.