Giving Compass' Take:

Chicago high schools offer a program that give students the opportunity to earn free community college credits before graduating with the hope that more students will enroll in college.

How can donors support initiatives to increase college enrollment rates in cities that are struggling to get students to apply for college?

Read more about the opportunities for high school students in dual-enrollment programs.

Alan Quintana’s last year of high school at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy looked a lot more like the second year of college, as he finished an associate degree in web development at Daley College.

About 400 students from 53 Chicago high schools this spring will have earned more than a semester’s worth of college credits. They’ve benefited from a dual-credit program that Chicago officials hope will cut the cost of higher education and also help more students complete college. Quintana was one of 13 students who will have earned an associate degree by the time they graduate high school.

Chicago’s program offers the opportunity to earn free college credits at any of the city’s seven community colleges, along with subsidized home-to-school transportation.

The program has grown from 300 students who earned at least one college credit in 2011, when Emanuel took office, to more than 3,750 students this school year — a roughly 12-fold increase.

The number of Chicago students who enroll in college, both during and after high school,  has steadily risen. But graduating from college has been a challenge. In 2016, just 18 percent of Chicago ninth-graders were projected to attain a bachelor’s degree within six years of high school graduation, and four-year college graduation rates have remained mostly stagnant since 2009, according to a 2017 report by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.

Supporters hope that by offering free college courses through local community colleges as an alternative to the traditional U.S. higher-education timeline, more students will complete college. What’s called dual enrollment provides a major boost to rates of college enrollment, college and high school graduation, and even students’ high school academic performance, according to a review by federal education officials.

Read the full article about high schoolers earning community college credits by Yana Kunichoff at Chalkbeat.