Ferndale City & Schools Early College Program Partnership
The City of Ferndale Police Department, Ferndale School District, and Baker College of Auburn Hills have worked together to create and offer the Early College Program—an opportunity for Ferndale high school students to study and pursue a degree in criminal justice, business & marketing, computer programming, or medical assistance. Students enrolled in the program pursue college-level coursework while still in high school, then attend a “13th year” to achieve an associate’s degree/transferable college credits, all for free. Ferndale police officers are deeply involved with the criminal justice portion of the program, serving as instructors and working to increase young peoples’ interest and viability in law enforcement careers.
Replicability:The State of Michigan has elected to support the design and adoption of Early College programs throughout the state. Content from their website describes the various types of programs that the State supports and approves: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-43092_51178---,00.html. This program seeks to address problems shared by school districts, local colleges, and law enforcement agencies across the nation. Given the State's support we believe the program is replicable because it promotes achieving commonly shared objectives important to each entity and fostering relationships among organizations that share mutual audiences and overlapping districts across the nation.
Creativity and Originality:The Early College Program provides a unique and creative solution to an issue that schools and law enforcement agencies alike are experiencing nationwide. The criminal justice component of this program distinguishes the Ferndale Early College program from other programs approved by the State of Michigan. First, Ferndale officers serve as actual instructors, providing students with field training, classroom instruction, and education on other career opportunities in law enforcement. Most importantly, students who complete their 13th year of Early College and achieve an Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice gain access to federal financial aid resources to help pay for the Police Academy—federal funding is typically not available for the Police Academy outside of this program.
Community Impact:With this project, we're looking at both short-term and longer-range goals and impacts. The ultimate goal for the schools—both Ferndale Public Schools and Baker College—is to see interest, enrollment, and ultimately an increase in college attendance and degrees awarded. The schools have seen this already: 69 students enrolled in the year-one cohort of the program, and the retention rate going into year two is over 70%. For the City and Police Department, we're ultimately hoping to build trust and garner career interest in young people, particularly those underrepresented in law enforcement. The Police Department and school district will monitor the number of students enrolling in the criminal justice track at the high school level as well as the percentage who choose to complete their associate's degrees.
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