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Grant Will Help NECC Expand Early College Programs in Partnership with Area High Schools

Submitted by on March 1, 2018 – 6:56 pm

Haverhill High School graduate Owen Bourdon is congratulated by NECC President Lane Glenn at the 2017 NECC early college program recognition ceremony.

Local high school students will benefit from a $10,000 early college program grant, which Northern Essex Community College recently received from the Commonwealth.

The college will partner with Amesbury, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, Pentucket Regional, Whittier Regional Vocational Technical, and Lawrence Technical high schools to create a more sustainable early college model that will help high school students prepare for success in college.

Focusing on high school juniors and seniors, the new model includes five key design principles: equitable access, guided academic pathways, enhanced student support, relevant connections to career fields, and high quality partnerships.

The 11th grade program will include Mass Transfer courses in English, psychology, math, and science, while the 12th grade program will offer computer science, health, engineering, and education options. The grant will also provide NECC the opportunity to bring employers into these core classes to broaden students’ knowledge of potential career paths.

“This grant recognizes the work we have already been doing with our high school partners,” says Noemi Custodia-Lora, NECC’s vice president of the Lawrence Campus and community relations.  According to Custodia-Lora, who oversees K-12 partnerships for the college, 400 students from 19 local high schools took courses at Northern Essex last year.

The new proposals will allow for these partnerships to adopt a more standardized model and focus on bringing junior and senior high school students to the NECC campus for their core courses, says Custodia-Lora.

Why Early College?

Early college programs have, for years, proven essential in helping college-bound high school students develop the skills and knowledge base they need to achieve academic success. Strong programs have been shown to boost college completion rates for low-income students and other disadvantaged populations by giving them the chance to take college-level courses and earn college credit at little or no cost. Such findings were supported in a recent report by Parthenon-EY Education Practice.

“Early college programs are crucial for exposing students to the opportunities higher education can create,” says Governor Charlie Baker.

In March of 2017, Baker announced a new effort to increase the number of early college programs available to high-schoolers. The new competitive planning grants aim to better help schools become officially “designated” for their initiatives.  The grants were awarded by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

For more information on high school and other early college partnerships available through Northern Essex Community College, please contact Noemi Custodia Lora at 978-738-7401 or

With campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence, Northern Essex Community College offers over 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, 8,500 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,600 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at