UDC Partners with Anacostia High School for Early College Program and STEM opportunities

UDC Partners with Anacostia High School for Early College Program and STEM opportunities

UDC partners with Anacostia High School for Early College Program and STEM opportunities


President Mason with Anacostia High School Principal William Haith

President Mason with Anacostia High School Principal William Haith.

The University of the District of Columbia is laying the foundation for Anacostia High School students to jumpstart their college careers through UDC’s Early College Program, in which students earn college credit while completing their diplomas.

The Early College Program is a part of the Community-to-Career Academy (C2 Academy) under UDC’s Developing America’s Workforce Nucleus (DAWN) Initiative. DAWN addresses the underrepresentation of minority STEM talent due to systemic racism or economic inequality. It redirects the public education pipeline to produce more business and entrepreneurship ready STEM talent in ethnic minority and disadvantaged communities.

“Our Strategic Plan is called the Equity Imperative, and that means that in the discussion about the future of America, we want to make sure we are on the right side of that conversation in words and practice,” said UDC President Ronald Mason Jr., who spoke at Anacostia’s Back to School Kick off. “The DAWN Initiative is about understanding the forces that destroy talent in Black, brown and poor communities and then rethinking education so that we can withstand those forces and enable students to survive them and ultimately thrive despite them.

“Everything we are doing in Ward 8, including the Early College, UDCC2 Academy, is not only to support the students and the community in Anacostia, but to understand what works, and once we understand what works, apply it University-wide.”

Students at Anacostia High School can experience college-level courses, accelerating their path to degree completion. The initial Early College program will begin with a small student cohort to determine the best approach for expansion. Anacostia High School is in southeast Washington, D.C., providing career- and college-preparatory education.

UDC will also offer a dual degree program for 11th and 12th-grade students. They will complete their high school requirements while earning credits toward an associate degree. Other program components will include technical skills training, paid internships, tutoring and mentoring, wraparound services for students and their parents or caregivers, and faculty and student research and advocacy for Ward 8 students.

While this is the first year of the Early College program, UDC provides three pathways to enter the University, including Workforce Certification, Open Enrollment Community College, as well as entering at the bachelor’s level and above.

“We know that students will come in through one of those three doors, so it’s important that all three are available,” President Mason said. “Over time, more and more will be able to come in through the bachelor’s degree door.”

The Early College program was announced recently on the first day of school at Anacostia, where students were greeted with colorful balloon arches, a DJ and giveaways. Along with UDC provides students with flash drives, water bottles, pens and UDC swag, other supporters at the Anacostia High School Back to School kick-off included radio station WKYS FM 93.9 FM, which provided students with backpacks, and The House DC, a nonprofit, which provided information about its afterschool programs, academic support and activities for the Anacostia community.

President Mason encouraged students in the gymnasium to do their best as they prepare to take advantage of the opportunities such as Early College at UDC. Councilman Trayvon White, D.C. Ward 8, also told students that their future begins with a good education.

UDC’s partnerships with Anacostia extend beyond the Early College Program. This summer, several students participated in the inaugural UDC Summer Internship Program under the DAWN Initiative. They participated in the Anacostia Summer Youth Internship on Environmental Justice with support from the Department of the Interior’s Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance and the National Park Services Stewardship Institute.

They supported the students with community interviews and data analysis. Pepco was the corporate sponsor.

Keion Williams, a junior at Anacostia, was among the participants in the summer internship. He, along with his mother, Summer Williams, attended the Back-to-School Kick-Off.

“The internship helped me to get out of my comfort zone,” Keion said. “It exposed me to new things. We heard from different speakers and took field trips, which helped us understand the different things that impact the environment and what can be done about it.”

The UDC and Anacostia High School partnership is extensive and includes providing college tutors for high school students taking civil engineering, agricultural and urban sustainability information, and preparing the school’s team for an electric vehicle competition last year.

UDC also provides support for the school’s Career Technical Education (CTE) and its most popular academies in civil engineering and architecture.

“There are several projects that UDC has sponsored,” said William Haith, Anacostia High School principal. “We are transitioning to supporting our community more, which is also UDC’s community and includes the Early College program for our students.

“Early College presents students with the opportunity to pursue higher education. We are trying to shift mindsets, and we want to make sure post-high school education is available for all. It’s essential to consider the national conversation around student loan debt. The partnership with UDC helps students avoid carrying much debt. It also gives students the opportunity to pursue something within reach, which may not have been in space before.”

To learn more about DAWN, please click here.