Bard Baltimore receives $1.5M from Bloomberg Philanthropies for early college education for high school students

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Bard High School Early College in Baltimore received a $1.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to support the school’s students who are earning early college credits and degrees from Bard College. Image via Google Street View.

Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded a $1.5 million grant to Bard High School Early College in Baltimore (Bard Baltimore) to support Baltimore City Public School students earning early college credits and degrees from Bard College.

Opened in 2015 in West Baltimore, Bard Baltimore is the only early college high school in the Baltimore City Public Schools system to grant college degrees, according to a release from Bard College.

Bard Baltimore allows students to earn their high school diploma while obtaining college credits from Bard College, located in upstate New York.

“This gift opens a world of possibilities for our entire school community, from students to families to faculty to alumni,” Bard Baltimore Principal Francesca Gamber said in a statement. “As we welcome students back from the pandemic, the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies will help us to respond to their academic and social-emotional needs in ways that will amplify the success we’ve already seen over the past six years.”

Bard Baltimore seeks to expand higher education opportunities for Baltimore students, particularly students from low-income and underrepresented communities, according to the Bard College release.

“BHSEC Baltimore strives to be a citywide leader in toppling the barriers to a college education, especially for students of color, and in disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline,” Gamber said. “We are grateful for this support, which will advance our work so significantly.”

After completing their 10th grade year, Bard Baltimore students begin full-time Bard College coursework. Through the tuition-free program, the high school students are able to earn 60 or more transferable college credits and an Associate in Arts degree from Bard College by the end of their 12th grade year, the release said.

At Bard Baltimore, 93% of the graduating class of 2020 earned a high school diploma and at least one full year of transferable college credit. Also among that graduating class, 54% earned an associate in arts degree from Bard College, and 85% pursued further college education, according to the release.

Of Bard Baltimore’s student body, 81% of students are Black and more than half are the part of the first generation of their families to get a college education, the release said.

“This recognition of Bard’s successful early college model by the Bloomberg Philanthropies is deeply gratifying and will play a significant role in its continued success in Baltimore,” Bard College President Leon Botstein said in a statement.

Michael Bloomberg, the co-founder of Bloomberg L.P and former mayor of New York City, graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. Since then, Bloomberg has served as the chair of Hopkins’s board of trustees and supported capital projects, scholarships and endowments at the university.

Bloomberg’s charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, has also supported job training and placement for Baltimore youth and young adults.

Bard Baltimore officials said the $1.5 million grant will help the school expand its advising services and provide better support to students and alumni, “helping to ensure that the school’s early college students are progressing not only faster but also farther.”

“Bard Baltimore is vitally important in the landscape of higher education in Baltimore,” Bard Early College Executive Director Stephen Tremaine said in a statement. “Bloomberg Philanthropies’ extraordinary commitment to this unique campus will deepen the school’s impact for young people across Baltimore, particularly in disinvested and underestimated Baltimore communities.”

Tremaine added that Bloomberg’s mayorship was “crucial to the initial expansion” of the Bard High School Early College network.

The network now serves about 3,000 students across seven campuses, as well as partnership programs for students to complete up to one year of college.

“[Bloomberg’s] continued leadership in education, and continued commitment to the City of Baltimore, is crucial to opening doors and changing lives in Baltimore,” Tremaine said.

Marcus Dieterle

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