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DISD and DCCCD Partner to Open Eight New Collegiate Academies

This article appeared in a September 2016 issue of the student newsletter.

“The excitement is palpable,” exclaimed Bruce Bradford, emcee of the morning’s events (and president and CEO of the North Texas Chamber of Commerce).  

Wearing a big smile and a nicely pressed suit, Bradford addressed a crowd of approximately 200 Dallasites seated at the Communities Foundation of Texas building. The room listened intently. Executive-level staff and administrators from some of Dallas’ biggest companies — names like AT&T, American Airlines, Microsoft and Wells Fargo — had been waiting for this day.    

Six Months Prior 

You see, in March 2016 a very important meeting took place. Israel Cordero (deputy chief of school leadership for Dallas Independent School District) met with Dr. Joe May (chancellor for DCCCD). The two discussed a grand idea: opening eight collegiate academies in Dallas. Even grander: the launch date — August 2016. 
“I drove to each of the Dallas Community Colleges to see if they were interested [in participating], and the resounding yes I received was powerful,” remembers Cordero.
The DISD Collegiate Academies would be unlike any other early college high school, however. Each Collegiate Academy would eventually become a P-Tech school, meaning it would be paired with a local industry partner, such as AT&T or Microsoft, to offer students technical training in a specific career field.
Over the next few months the dynamic duo — Cordero and May — would receive support from countless others committed to student success, including game changer Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of DISD. 
“The vision and the dream is that when these students graduate from high school, many of them will have an associate degree, and many will be able to take a job with one of our industry partners and make a living wage,” noted Hinojosa. 
It did not take long for the DCCCD Board of Trustees to also say yes to this project. And then of course there were community partners like George Tang, managing director of Educate Texas, who jumped on board. Over the last decade, Educate Texas has partnered with DISD and DCCCD to help grow the portfolio of early college high schools in North Texas. And they were happy to do so again. 
“We know, across the state, these early college high schools are working,” explained Tang. 
Thom Chesney agrees. “Students who participate in early college high school are far more likely not only to transfer and continue into higher education but to enter the workplace and succeed for their employers,” said Chesney, president of Brookhaven College.    

The Industry Partner Reveal 

On Aug. 31, the DISD/DCCCD Collegiate Academies revealed their industry partners, one week after their doors opened and freshmen began their first high school classes. This is the event featuring Bradford as the morning emcee.
“We opened up a minimum of 800 to 1,000 slots [at the Collegiate Academies] — a minimum of 100 slots in each high school,” noted Hinojosa. “Out of 2,000 applicants, 913 freshman students were selected. Our early college high schools are over-enrolled.” 
The audience cheered. 
DISD’s overall drop in enrollment had made the news that same morning. It was exciting to hear that the early college high schools were not experiencing that same decrease, but rather a rise in numbers. For DISD and DCCCD alike, students are the institution’s lifeblood. 
“As we go through next year’s budget … I can promise you our number one commitment is to continue this dream to eleven more schools,” added Hinojosa, referring to the 11 DISD schools that have already raised their hand to be in Cohort 2. The approximate startup cost per school is $1.5 million.   

Cohort 1 

So who is in Cohort 1, and who are their industry partners?
Sonia Salas, communications and media specialist for Univision, took the mic to share the big news. She is a 2012 graduate of UTA and former North Lake College student. 
“Univision takes pride in supporting our community, especially young students,” noted Salas before sharing the Collegiate Academies list. 
Cohort 1 includes:

  1. David W. Carter Collegiate Academy: City of Dallas Police Department and Wells Fargo Bank 
  2. Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Global Collegiate Academy: STEMuli Education, SMU Guildhall and JPMorgan Chase & Co. 
  3. Thomas Jefferson Collegiate Academy: Telemundo, NBC5 and Pinnacle Group 
  4. James Madison Collegiate Academy: City of Dallas IT Department 
  5. Pinkston Preparatory Collegiate Academy: Univision, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Plains Capital Bank and SMU Simmons School of Education 
  6. Franklin D. Roosevelt Academy of Collegiate Studies: UT Southwestern Medical Center and Bank of America 
  7. South Oak Cliff Collegiate Academy: Microsoft and EON Reality 
  8. Seagoville Pathways to Technology (P-Tech) Early College High School at Eastfield College: AT&T and Accenture 

Cohort 2 

American Airlines, TEXo and the Construction Education Foundation have volunteered to join Cohort 2. Patrick Morin, managing director at American Airlines, said the company is thrilled to establish a new pipeline of local talent in IT. 
“We have more than 6,500 flights each day and 75,000 passengers,” explained Morin. “You cannot do that without IT.” 
Morin continued to talk about IT in the aviation industry — pointing to mobile apps, airplane maintenance and flight scheduling. 
“The airline industry is a tough business, but we have pivoted,” added Morin. “There is more maturity in the industry, and we believe we are going to have sustained profit for years to come.”    

Industry Insights 

Michael Peterson, regional vice president of AT&T, also discussed the importance of pivoting to build tomorrow’s workforce.
“As we pivot from being funders to doers we are taking a more active role in ensuring student success and career readiness,” said Peterson. “We are proud to be the first employee sponsor with P-Tech [certification].” 
While AT&T was the very first business leader to step forward and partner with a DISD Collegiate Academy, their excitement is shared by other community leaders. The Industry Partner Reveal event showcased this excitement as leaders across the Dallas County community discussed how eager they are to find employees with the skills, training and education necessary to excel in the workplace.
“Ten years go there weren’t drone pilots,” noted Raamel Mitchell, citizenship director at Microsoft. “Uber meant something entirely different. We didn’t think about how we shop …. The world is going to change fundamentally over the next 10 years and we [Microsoft] have the opportunity to partner with a great school … so that we can build the workplace of the future.”   

Student Thoughts 

Business leaders and education administrators weren’t the only ones attending the Aug. 31 Industry Partner Reveal. A group of students from the eight new DISD Collegiate Academies also took part. Two of the students – Elsa Ibarra (Seagoville P-Tech) and Brianna Key (Carter Collegiate Academy) – addressed the audience.
“I am here to thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful program,” said Ibarra. “By joining this program I will be able to be the first in my family to graduate college with a degree. I chose P-Tech not only for the opportunities and skills it will give me but also to be a positive role model for my family.” 
Ibarra continued by sharing her biggest dreams: to become a business owner and attend Harvard. Then Key approached the mic. 
“What is an industry partner, you ask? Why is it important?” she asked. “Five things come to mind.”
Key went on to discuss the importance of early networking, having a competitive college application and knowing what you’re doing after high school. Key’s speech also discussed how a high school with an industry partner helps connect classroom academics to real work experience. 
“True learning comes from experience,” the young woman confidently explained. She also referenced how internships with industry partners would help her get noticed in a positive way (college applications) and give her the chance to make an informed decision before committing to a college or full-time job.    

Reflecting on the “Why” 

“Among the eight high schools represented here today, from the class of 2009, only 13% received a post-secondary degree,” explained Cordero, returning to the why. “And it’s not just DISD data; if you look at county, state and national data, you realize we have got to do a better job with the handoff from high school to college. The Collegiate Academies ECHS give us the opportunity to [do better]. …. Four years from now we will have 900 students graduating [from these same eight schools] with an associate degree who have received mentorship, internships and employment opportunities at livable wages.”
“It is the biographies we are helping write right now,” concluded Chesney. “There are students in the room today, and it is their stories that will become the stories — not just of this project or partnership but of this community, city and state. We are writing stories as we rewrite history.”    

Go Further 

Want to learn more about the DISD/DCCCD partnership and Collegiate Academies? Visit for application instructions, maps, FAQs and much, much more.