The Mountain Empire Unified School District has joined the East County Education Alliance, a partnership formed five years ago to ensure a seamless educational path between high school, college and a career.
An agreement was signed yesterday at a joint board meeting of the Mountain Empire district, the Grossmont Union High School District and the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District held at Cuyamaca College. It was the first time the boards of the two East County school districts have met jointly with the college district board.
“With Mountain Empire as part of the team, every public high school student in East County has the opportunity to benefit from the work of the Alliance,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
The Mountain Empire school district, which serves more than 3,100 students in rural southeastern San Diego County, consists of four elementary schools, two middle schools, Mountain Empire Alternative Education, and one high school, Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley.
“We’re pleased to join the Alliance,” said Kathy Granger, superintendent of the Mountain Empire Unified School District. “We look forward to an even closer working relationship with our education colleagues in East County.”
By joining the Alliance, the school district will join in the work that began in 2014 with a collaboration between the college district and the Grossmont Union High School District. The goals of the Alliance are to inspire students to focus on college and careers, foster collaboration between the districts, and prepare students for an ever-evolving workforce.
“In the five years of the Alliance, our districts have made great strides in smoothing the pathway between high school and college, benefitting thousands of students,” said Tim Glover, superintendent of the Grossmont Union High School District.
Through the Alliance, high school principals are collaborating with the two community college presidents, and high school counselors are meeting with community college counselors to provide better guidance to students. High school teachers are partnering with their community college counterparts to ensure students are learning the material they need to be successful in college.
The Alliance also administers the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College Promise, which offers a free year at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges to first-time students attending full-time. More than 800 students were Promise scholars at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges in the 2019-20 school year, and more than 500 of those students came from the Grossmont Union High School District.
As a result of new state legislation, the Promise is being extended to offer a second free year at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges for students who continue to enroll full-time and maintain at least a “C” average. More information about the Promise is available at mycollegepromise.net.
Sean Hancock, vice chancellor for student and institutional success at the college district, announced that a new Promise Plus scholarship is being offered this fall to current Promise students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca College. The $1,000 scholarship for books and supplies will be offered to 300 students who will be chosen based on an essay they write, with priority being given to students with the greatest financial need.
Erin Williams, a 2018 graduate of El Capitan High School who is now a Promise student at Cuyamaca College, described the impact the Promise has had on her life.
“Without the Promise program, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” she told board members. “This program has been life-changing. It was very important to me.”