Innovative Bridge Year ensures college, career readiness

Yesterday, Governor LePage and I announced the 12 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Centers who will share in $500,000 granted by the Department to support the expansion of the innovative Bridge Year Program.

This funding will allow as many as 225 students to earn approximately two semesters of college credit before they even graduate from high school and develop technical and life skills for success in college, careers and civic life. More importantly, this program reflects an unprecedented collaboration between high schools, CTE centers, higher education and the workforce that will certainly change the lives of these students and the future of our state.  

Participating students earn up to 30 college credits at a cost of just $45 per credit hour by taking courses taught by high school instructors who have been approved by the University of Maine. They concurrently receive a technical skills-based education through their CTE Center that will put them on a career track in occupations including those related to automotive, business, electrical, equipment maintenance and repair, health and public safety. The result is students save time and money while developing the skills they’ll need to be competitive in the college classroom and the workforce.

Supporters of the Bridge Year Program like Governor LePage and myself see it as a meaningful approach to removing barriers to higher education and reversing Maine’s persistent low degree attainment rates and skills gap.

Recent data shows that 64 percent of Maine students enroll in college following their high school graduation, with around a third of those needing remedial courses in reading or math.  Beyond the rigorous college coursework, the program includes summer academies on the UMaine college campus and financial planning sessions that additionally prepare students for college experiences. By building confidence and lowering costs, Bridge Year makes an often daunting transition to post-secondary studies possible for participating students. When these students arrive at college, there won’t be any question as to whether they can be successful because they’ve already proven they can be.

Unfortunately, our Department’s initial request of $2 million to support the program was not fully granted by the Legislature, but we’re proud of the way our CTE team has stretched the $500,000 we were appropriated to be most impactful to Maine students.

Those funds have been divided between programs that are ready to be operational with students this fall and will receive $60,000. Those that are in the planning phase and will start in the fall of 2015 will each receive $20,000. The grants will support professional development for staff, summer academies for students, stipends for college professors and contracted services with Bridge Year Educational Services, the nonprofit that will be managing the programs at all locations.

Congratulations to the following recipients.

Recipients of $60,000 grants (operational phase):

  • Region 2/Southern Aroostook County in partnership with Houlton High School
  • Ellsworth-Hancock County Technical Center in partnership with Ellsworth High School
  • Mid-Coast School of Technology in partnership with Medomak Valley High School
  • Mid-Maine Technical Center in partnership with Waterville High School
  • Bangor-United Technologies in partnership with Bangor, Hermon and Brewer high schools and Hampden Academy

 Recipients of $20,000 grants (planning phase):

  • Sanford Regional Technical Center in partnership with Sanford High School
  • Lewiston Regional Technical Center in partnership with Edward Little High School
  • Tri-County Technical Center in partnership with Nokomis Regional High
  • Somerset Career and Technical Center in partnership with Skowhegan High School
  • Foster Technology Center in partnership with Mt. Blue High School
  • Region 3/Northern Penobscot Tech in partnership with Schenck High School
  • Portland Arts and Technology High School in partnership with Portland High School