Lamberton Project to help urban students receive college credit, transfer here

A new partnership between Eastern University and Lamberton Public School in Philadelphia will allow urban students to earn up to two years of college credit while still in high school.

“The most exciting aspect of this project is the opportunity to transform education and make an impact on the inner city,” Yvonne Turner, the early college high school and dual-credit program’s coordinator said.

The program, called the Lamberton Project, is geared toward giving students at the Lamberton school who ordinarily would not have a chance to attend college the opportunity to complete two years’ worth of college credit while they are still in high school.

The new initiative, born out of the research and start-up funding of the Gates Foundation and with the support of President David Black, has been in the works for three years. It enters its final planning stage this fall when Eastern students begin tutoring students at the Lamberton school. The program starts officially in the Fall of 2006.

Eastern professors Walt Huddell, Van Weigel and Christopher Hall are also involved in the program, helping to shape curriculum for the college credit courses that will be offered to juniors and seniors at the school.

According to Black, who has been an advocate for the program since the Gates Foundation’s Dr. Deborah Wilds first contacted him three years ago, the project’s primary goal is to help inner-city students re-identify with education.

“The Gates Foundation believes, and I believe, if we literally induct urban high school students into a situation that accelerates rather than remediates and has them spend time with role models who expect them to do well and expose them to college, we think college completion rates will increase dramatically,” Black said.

Students participating in theearly college high school program at the Lamberton school during their junior and senior years will have the opportunity to earn as many as 60 college credits, mostly in breadth requirements, that usually overlap with the standard high school curriculum.

The credits are divided between blended classes, which contain both participants and non-participants in the program.They are taken in the junior year, and early college high school courses are offered during the senior year. In each case, the classes will be offered at the Lamberton school.

One of the requirements for students entering the program is that they agree to read with a younger student, either in middle or elementary school, so each new group of students entering the program has more preparation.

In addition, the project has a two-generation approach. The Gates Foundation hopes that as students in this generation become educated, they will encourage their children to identify with learning as well.

Eastern students will also have the opportunity to tutor with the Lamberton Project. While education majors are being encouraged by their advisers to look into working with the program, all students are allowed to volunteer their time. Eventually, the program will be offered as a service learning and community service site.

“I believe if this experiment succeeds as a two generation intervention, then we will have solved one of society’s most vexing problems,” Black said.

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