Benedict College and Fresno Unified School District have partnered to launch a program that will allow students to earn 12 college credits to an HBCU by taking virtual classes.

According to ABC 30 Action News, the new HBCU Step Up Pathways Program is the first school district in California to partner with an HBCU for a dual enrollment program.

“This year it’s a pilot program, we’re starting with three high schools in Fresno Unified School District, we will be expanding to every high school in Fresno Unified School District,” says HBCU Step Up Coordinator Zerina Hargrove Brown.

The Fresno high schools participating in the first round include Bullard, Edison and Sunnyside. Organizers compared the new program to advance placement courses that are already offered to students.

“I could put your kids in an AP class, force them to take the AP test, either get a good grade or don’t get a good grade, that may get on their college transcript, it might not. Or we can put kids in dual enrollment, where they are guaranteed to get transcript credit at the end of that course,” says Superintendent Bob Nelson.

In order to qualify, students will have to maintain a certain GPA and show they’re committed to the program.

“You have to be excited about learning, you have to be diligent in regards to your academics and serious about what you want to do in higher learning. As long as you have a 2.0 and you have a passion and the heart, and you want to go to college, then you can be in this program,” says Brown.

Students who are accepted and complete the program are guaranteed admission to Benedict College.