Early High School Graduate Innovation Program

The 2021 passage of the Successful High School Transitions Bill (SB21-106) moved Colorado closer to blurring the lines between high school, postsecondary education, and career.

In Colorado, about 770 students graduate early each year. According to national ACT data, 26% of high school students are academically ready at the end of 11th grade to start college-level coursework. One-third of those students come from low-income families, and 30% of those are racial minorities. This new program rewards learners who complete high school graduation requirements in three years by providing those students a scholarship that can be used for postsecondary education or workforce training in what would have been their fourth year of high school. The scholarship can also be leveraged to support the costs associated with these career exploration and postsecondary opportunities, such as textbooks and transportation.

Districts participating in this pilot: 

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools
  • Aurora Public Schools
  • Fremont Multi-District Initiative: Cañon City Re-1, Fremont Re-2, and Cotopaxi Re-3 School Districts 
  • Harrison School District 2
  • Greeley-Evans D6
  • Colorado Early Colleges Network and The Academy of Charter Schools
  • Rural Consortium: Montezuma-Cortez, Clear Creek, East Grand, and West Grand School Districts

The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) is the state agency responsible for developing and implementing a five-year pilot with schools or districts (or consortia of districts/schools) in the state to support low-income high school students with early graduation. Colorado Succeeds is working in collaboration with CDHE to provide optional technical assistance to pilot districts and learners.


What's in it for students?

  • Explore options and opportunities after high school – equip high school students with greater opportunities for success after graduation
  • Save time and money – help students to have meaningful opportunities to enroll in full time college coursework or career training in their fourth year of high school 
  • Facilitate transportation to college courses or career training – many low income students can’t participate in certain pathways or opportunities because they lack access to transportation 
  • Support low income students – complete high school graduation requirements early and receive a scholarship to help pay for career and postsecondary training and education

What’s in it for districts?

  • Schools and districts continue to receive partial funding for a student who otherwise would have graduated early and left the system
  • Equity-centered pilot increasing access to career-exploration and concurrent enrollment for low-income students 
  • Access to collaborative learning network of other pilot districts
  • Student-facing support from technical assistance providers to help pilot districts and students navigate options in using their scholarship funds