A group of kindergarteners who are the youngest students in the Long Beach Unified School District signed a pledge Monday that guarantees them and tens of thousands of students a seat in a college classroom.
While the thought of a college application is years away for some, city and education leaders are making a promise to give a spot at Cal State Long Beach or Long Beach City College to each of the district's 80,000 students.
"That is our promise, and that's why we call it the Long Beach College Promise. We're going to ensure they have a place," said Eloy Oakley of Long Beach City College. "Part of the promise includes the student as well -- they have take the classes they need to become college and career ready. They have to get their grades, but if they do that, we promise to do our part as well."
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That promise began 10 years ago as a commitment to giving each student in long beach the opportunity for a college education.
Now, for the first time, the city of Long Beach is joining in and pitching in more resources, aiming to double the number of internships available in the city for college graduates. The city also hopes to achieve universal preschool citywide in the next few years.
"All the academic research shows that the single best investment in education is preschool," Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. "If you invest in preschool and you get youngsters in preschool, the chances of them going on, graduating high school and going onto college exponentially increase."
It's an investment Garcia says will pay the city back tenfold.
"I know there's a lot of demand for civil engineers overseas, but if I could, I'd like to stay in Long Beach," LBCC student Kyle Cooper said. "I don't really have any desire to leave."
Nor does LBCC Lokilani Hunt, who says she hopes to use her political science and philosophy major to serve Long Beach in the very near future.
Whatever college I choose to go to, I'm going to make the best and come back to my community and help out here," Hunt said.