Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun and Boston School Super­in­ten­dent Carol Johnson have announced the launch of an inno­v­a­tive part­ner­ship to give Boston public high school grad­u­ates a solid prepa­ra­tion for col­lege or the workplace.

The pilot pro­gram, to begin in fall 2009, will give Boston public high school grad­u­ates a rig­or­ously aca­d­emic first-​​year col­lege expe­ri­ence, com­bined with assis­tance in strength­ening aca­d­emic, social, and employ­ment skills.

The stakes are high now,” said the mayor during a press con­fer­ence at North­eastern on Monday. “Our kids need to stay in col­lege and graduate.”

North­eastern has a long his­tory of oppor­tu­nity, a ded­i­ca­tion to part­nering with the com­mu­nity and a com­mit­ment to the inte­gra­tion of work and learning,” said Menino. “The uni­ver­sity is in a unique posi­tion to lead this effort.”

Aoun called the pro­gram “yet another man­i­fes­ta­tion of Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to the city of Boston and its public schools.”

We are excited about the pro­gram design because it includes such ser­vices as coaching, tutoring, men­toring, social and employ­ment skills and stu­dent sup­port,” said Johnson. “It uses time-​​on-​​task, con­text and struc­tured expe­ri­ence to ensure stu­dents meet the expec­ta­tions and stan­dards of a freshman year.”

At the press con­fer­ence, Aoun said the new pro­gram will accept stu­dents who “are not pre­pared for col­lege. It’s a risk, but it’s a cal­cu­lated risk.” The pro­gram, he said, “will bring them to a level of readi­ness” to com­plete their col­lege careers.

Boston grad­u­ates who com­plete the North­eastern pro­gram will earn col­lege credit rec­og­nized by part­nering insti­tu­tions. In addi­tion, the cur­riculum will also meet entry-​​level job require­ments for partner indus­tries, giving stu­dents the option of entering the work­force and com­pleting their degrees on a part-​​time basis.

North­eastern is in talks with sev­eral two– and four-​​year insti­tu­tions and busi­ness part­ners, and plans to work with two to three col­leges during the pilot period.

Aoun said that during the cur­rent eco­nomic down­turn, Boston’s insti­tu­tions of higher edu­ca­tion must strengthen their com­mu­nity engage­ment. “This is not a time for retrench­ment. It is a time to redouble our efforts,” he said.

Cre­ating paths to learning is both a moral oblig­a­tion and a matter of eco­nomic sense. Higher edu­ca­tion is the pipeline of intel­lec­tual cap­ital that will help Boston and the nation recover and prosper,” he said. “Northeastern’s resources have long been at the ser­vice of the com­mu­nity, and espe­cially the Boston public schools.”

Photo by Craig Bailey:

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino speaks at a press con­fer­ence at North­eastern on Monday, flanked by Dr. Gary Got­tleib of the Boston Pri­vate Industry Council, left, and North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun.