CONCORD — Tucked into Gov. Chris Sununu’s second inaugural address was a promise to create the New Hampshire Career Academy, a partnership involving community colleges, employers and local high schools that will enable motivated and capable students to get a tuition-free associate degree.
If the initiative comes together as planned over the next year, it has the potential to address some of the state’s most vexing issues, including high levels of student debt, workforce shortage and the need to keep more young people from moving away.
“We want to make sure there are no barriers or silos between that 12th year of education and the first year of college, and that there is a smooth transfer from college to employment,” said economist Ross Gittell, chancellor of the community college system.
Developed in Rochester
Dean Graziano, extended learning opportunity coordinator for Rochester schools, developed the program after meeting with community college officials.
“He wanted to find a way to reward ambitious high school students who were ready for the challenge of college and eager to begin their careers,” according to the Great Bay Community College website.
Graziano and his Safran Aerospace Composite contacts met with Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and in August presented the program to the governor and Executive Council, where it was well received.