Five Questions with GtCNN: Andy Dorsey

Monday, February 20, 2017


What systematic reforms are needed to ensure all students receive the individual supports they need to complete high school ready for postsecondary education or training?



That’s a good question with no easy answers. The good news is that high school graduation rates nationally have been steadily increasing, so many districts are clearly taking positive steps.


I’d like to see a renewed focus on career-technical education and apprenticeships that connect students with careers earlier. For some students, more practical, hands-on learning, especially in a work setting, would be much more meaningful than classroom time. I was lucky enough to travel to Switzerland last year with Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and a delegation of business leaders. We saw more than 20 apprenticeship sites and learned how the Swiss have used apprenticeships to provide support and career pathways to students at all levels of academic achievement.


I also think that project-based learning has a lot of possibilities to engage students. Northglenn High School (Adams 12 School District) in Colorado has had tremendous success restructuring to a STEM academy built on project-based curriculum. Graduation and post-secondary success rates have changed measurably by that shift in focus.


Northglenn is one of two high schools (Skyline High in Longmont, St. Vrain School District is the other) where Front Range is a partner in a PTECH (Pathways in Technology Earth College High School) high school. This is a promising model, as it incorporates a corporate partner who can help make education relevant. IBM is our partner in Longmont, and Level III Communication is our partner in Northglenn. Early findings are that the program, which was begun by IBM, is helping potentially disconnected youth graduate with meaningful credentials.


We can also do a better job aligning high school and college curriculum and providing more focused concurrent enrollment pathways. Right now concurrent enrollment offerings are often too haphazard and uncoordinated with students’ career goals.


I am encouraged that Front Range partners with several districts that have enhanced their focus on CTE and are considering apprenticeships and concurrent enrollment opportunities.


What is the most effective way for higher education and K-12 to work together to support the success of disconnected youth?



Programs like Gateway to College are one of the best ways; they have a proven track record and provide youth a path to a college credential. But more generally, we need to make school relevant for disconnected youth, we need to provide different learning settings and environments (since many were not successful in comprehensive high schools and are not likely to fit in with younger students), and we need to recognize that these students often need more intensive and perhaps intrusive support.



What is the value of dual enrollment for young people and for their communities?



Dual enrollment provides many benefits to students: early exposure to college in a supportive environment, reduced time to college graduation, and decreased cost of a college degree. For some students, dual enrollment is an opportunity to discover that they actually can master college material, and it can inspire them to attend college when they might not otherwise do so. For others, it helps them stay engaged in high school by giving them challenge and purpose. And for others, it is the only way they can afford a college degree.



College access has been receiving considerable attention in recent years. What are the biggest hurdles that remain in this area?



The data on access is striking – young people from the top income quintile are at least 10 times more likely to earn a college degree than those from the bottom income quintile. Part of the difference is college going rates, but a big part is college success rates. Higher income students succeed at much higher rates, more than double the rates even controlling for SAT scores. Probably the biggest hurdle is the lack of appropriate support services - social, financial, and academic - for low-income students. We are increasingly learning that opening the doors for access, as community colleges have done for years, is not enough. Some of the national work on guided pathways offers promise for how to address some of these barriers.



What advice would you give to civic and state leaders who want to take more of a role in addressing high school graduation and college completion rates?



I would suggest they study successful programs nationally; there are several good models in Colorado alone. In particular, I think they should visit Gateway to College programs! But, more generally, I think we also need to talk more about completion to what end? Leaders need to focus on how the world of work is changing and whether our programs are really giving students the skills they need to succeed. Just getting a high school diploma by cranking out some work in an online setting might earn a student their credential, but may not prepare them for the accelerating pace of change in the work world. The same is true of college completion efforts. We need to do a better job of matching student interests to careers, and in providing them information about how they can match their talents and interests to the world of work. I am not sure our goal should be to produce more psychology majors (not to pick on psychology, as I used to teach psychology) who haven’t thought about the applications of their degrees.


Two other thoughts. First, more completion will take at least some additional resources if the completions are to be meaningful. We can certainly get better at using the resources we have, but the college completion programs that are the most successful provide higher touch (and thus more costly) interactions with students. Second, there are a whole host of policy issues that need to get addressed in some states. Innovative programs sometimes can’t operate within traditional models. We may need to think differently.





Andy Dorsey is president of Front Range Community College in Colorado, and a member of the GtCNN Board of Directors.



GtCNN launches two programs in New England

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Portland, Or., January 18, 2016 – Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) is pleased to announce the launch of two new Gateway to College programs in New England. North Shore Community College (NSCC) in Danvers, Massachusetts, and Roger Williams University (RWU) in Providence, Rhode Island, are the first programs in the region that will be launched over the next five years, with support from Boston’s Barr Foundation. The two new programs bring the total number of Gateway to College programs to 40 nationally, with programs operating in 21 states. The new programs will join six Massachusetts program who are already doing exceptional work in the region.

“In North Shore Community College and Roger Williams University, we’re confident that we have two partners who share our commitment to ensuring that our most vulnerable youth have pathway to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential,” GtCNN President Emily Froimson shared.

GtCNN partners with colleges and school districts to establish a dual-enrollment program, reconnecting out-of-school or significantly off-track youth to their education. Students complete their high school diploma on a college campus while earning significant credit toward a postsecondary credential. Once operating at full capacity, Gateway to College programs are financially sustainable through public K-12 per-pupil expenditures. GtCNN continues to support programs through data collection and research, program improvement, and national convenings.

“We are excited to build on the success of our early college programs with the Lynn Public Schools, Essex Technical and Swampscott high schools to extend this effective national model to a vulnerable group of students who otherwise might not attain a high school diploma. One of our strengths is giving our students a lot of personalized support to ensure their success and completion, which will extend to this new initiative,” said NSCC President Patricia A. Gentile.

Donald J. Farish, president of RWU, stated, “It was easy for us to decide on a partnership between Roger Williams University and Gateway to College National Network. We will be working with Providence and Pawtucket school districts to reintegrate high school dropouts back into the educational pipeline, in order to help them earn the skills and credentials necessary to succeed in today’s knowledge economy. We have to give these young people hope —after all, ‘Hope’ is our state’s motto!”

About Gateway to College National Network

Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) supports communities in building sustainable pathways for disconnected youth to a high school diploma and meaningful college credential. GtCNN’s core strategy is to support and replicate Gateway to College programs around the country. Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school, or are significantly off track, complete their high school diplomas at college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a postsecondary credential., @gtcnn

[Gateway Student Voice] New Year, New Me

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Of the many phrases included in my running list of disliked clichés, the phrase “New year, new me” is without a doubt one of my least favorite of all.

Sure, the sentiment behind the saying is nice: with every new year comes the promise of a new and fresh start. Except, the sentiment is false and misleading. This pseudo-assertion does nothing but rationalize the concept of changing oneself like clockwork to adhere to the social riptide.

Unpopular opinion:

January 1st doesn’t mean squat. This date is not some magical “redo” button that grants a clean slate. The changes and resolutions you make each January are not an inherent biorhythmic byproduct of each “new” year; they come from YOU.

YOU possess the capabilities to make changes in your life at any point, should you ever want to. The concept of a New Year’s resolution is simply a social construct that carries no significance in your life until YOU decide it does.

After I dropped out of school, I spent four New Year’s Eves falling victim to false hope, telling myself every December 31st that THIS would be the year I picked up the pieces – that THIS would be the year I got my life together. And each year, I foolishly waited for my New Year’s resolution to come true while my mediocre efforts rendered themselves futile and all motivation fled by the time February rolled around. The reason for this being that my “motivation” for change wasn’t actually coming from me, but from the external pressures of the “New year, new me” mentality. My desire for change was nothing more than a socially-charged expectation that I attempted to live up to, while possessing an unbeknownst reluctance to continue my efforts past January, when the elation behind New Year’s resolutions had begun to die.

It wasn’t until one particularly unpleasant March day at the age of 17 that I made the conscious decision to swallow my pride and actually make change happen for myself. It wasn’t brought on by some highly anticipated holiday tradition, nor by a socially-fueled sense of optimism. I was tired of pointless resolutions. I was tired of wishful thinking. I realized that if I wanted change it had to come from me, and me alone. That was the day I began my application to the Gateway to College program, and I have continued to initiate real and authentic positive life changes ever since.

The beginning of a new year does not imply the need for personal change, just as the need for personal change is not required to coincide with the beginning of a new year.

The potential for change is already within you. You just have to be willing to find it. 


Eden Shaveet is a Gateway to College student from Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. She is an LAS major looking to pursue further degrees in psychology and neuroscience, and currently works as a Student Leader in Civic Engagement out of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.

PDX Bridge, initiative of Gateway to College National Network, receives $100,000 award from Ninety-nine girlfriends

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Portland Community College Future Connect students celebrate their June 2016 graduation. Photo credit: Vern Uyetake    

PORTLAND, Ore., December 8, 2016 – Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN), a Portland-based nonprofit, announces a $100,000 gift from Ninety-nine girlfriends in support of PDX Bridge, a partnership to provide a bridge from high school to college completion for some of Oregon’s most vulnerable youth.

The gift to GtCNN is Ninety-nine girlfriends’ inaugural Impact Award. The giving circle, comprised of 117 Portland-area women who each make a $1,000 annual gift, envisions collective giving as a way to create transformative change in our community. As part of the organization, members learn about needs in the community and come together to select one project to award.

Through PDX Bridge, GtCNN will convene state agencies, school districts and nonprofit partners to provide Portland-area foster, juvenile justice, and homeless youth a bridge from high school to and through college. By focusing efforts on our community’s most vulnerable youth, PDX Bridge will simultaneously help address the state’s low college-going rates and a gap in educational equity.

Oregon has one of the lowest college-going rates of recent high school graduates, exacerbating the state’s rank of 48th in the nation in on-time high school graduation. Young people in state care fare particularly poorly, having among the lowest postsecondary enrollment and completion rates of any group. Nationally, only 10% of foster youth enroll in postsecondary education, compared to 40% of their peers. “The program is important to our region because Portland cannot meet its educational and workforce needs while leaving our most vulnerable youth behind. Our community needs a ‘bridge’ to link our existing resources and provide youth in foster care, the juvenile justice system, or experiencing homelessness with clear supportive pathways from high school to college and career success,” said GtCNN President Emily Froimson.

PDX Bridge connects students in state care with the wraparound support needed to enroll in college and successfully complete their first year, a predictor of future college success. This fall, eight partner agencies across Multnomah County will recruit youth to participate as the initial cohort of 25 dual enrollment students. An additional 25 students will enroll in the spring, with an eventual enrollment of 100 students each year. Students will be enrolled at Portland Community College, and will receive coaching services as part of the college’s Future Connect program.

The foundation community has recognized the need to support undeserved youth in our region, and has now committed more than $300,000 in support of the program launch. The gift from Ninety-nine Girlfriends ensures program sustainability through its first year and into the future. “For us, the choice was made easy because the PDX Bridge project and the GtCNN staff who created it are exceptional,” stated Marnie Frank, one of the ninety-nine girlfriends. “Educational attainment is a critical need in our community, and we saw PDX Bridge as an excellent opportunity to invest in the future of Portland.”

About Gateway to College National Network

Gateway to College National Network supports communities in building sustainable pathways for disconnected youth (former high school dropouts) to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential. GtCNN was founded at Portland Community College in 2000, and now supports 39 programs in 21 states around the country.  For more information on GtCNN, contact Glenn Fee – Associate Vice President of External Relations – at 971.634.1525 or, or visit

About Ninety-Nine Girlfriends

Ninety-nine girlfriends engages women of Portland and Southwest Washington in giving back to our community through collective action. Ninety-nine girlfriends believes in the power of collective giving to create transformative change in our community by making significant grants and becoming more informed and engaged philanthropists. For more information about Ninety-nine girlfriends, please contact Deborah Edward at, or visit

Welcome Newest GtCNN Board Member, Larry Kubal

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Larry Kubal has invested in seed and early stage information technology companies for the last 23 years. He is a founder of Labrador Ventures and serves as a managing partner of Labrador Ventures III, IV and V. Labrador was among the founding investors in Pandora Media, where Larry served on the board for seven years up to the IPO. In Addition, Larry currently serves as the Labrador representative with portfolio companies Altierre, PlayPhone, and RocketFuel.  He was named one of the top 100 venture capitalists in 2013.

In addition to his investment experience, Mr. Kubal was a management consultant with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, a global strategy and technology consulting firm. Prior to consulting, Mr. Kubal worked extensively in computerized database publishing for McGraw-Hill Publications Company and for the Academy for Educational Development. Mr. Kubal was also a founding executive with a venture-backed PC software company, Avalanche Technologies, ultimately acquired by Microsoft.

Larry has also served on the boards of a number of youth and education oriented non-profits.  Currently he is on the national board of CollegeSpring, a nonprofit that partners with schools and community organizations to help students from low-income backgrounds boost SAT scores, navigate college admissions and financial aid, and pursue college degrees. Larry chairs its Finance and Operations Committee.  In addition, he is also an innovation/entrepreneurship task force member for both Duke University and University School of Milwaukee.  Larry is a long time TEDster and a member of the NationSwell council. 

Larry received his undergraduate degree from Duke University (1974) and his MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (1982).

Why Larry would like to join GtCNN:

"Education has always been a priority to me instilled by my parents. They were from immigrant backgrounds and both first generation college students. I am grateful for the many advantages afforded me. When I consider where to try to make change, there seems nothing more meaningful than changing the trajectory of a young person’s life. The impact of that change is magnified as it is projected through the individual’s adult life as well as through the ripples of all the people with whom he or she interacts. And where can trajectory change be more meaningful and needed than for a student off track or one who has never had the opportunity to be on track.  GtCNN appeals to me not only because of its mission but also because of 1.) its open-minded, intelligent, continual desire to improve culture and 2.) its position as an organization at an inflection point with all the attendant challenges and opportunities that that entails."

Give Education on #GivingTuesday

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dear friends,

Each year, thousands of out-of-school and off track youth reconnect with their education through a Gateway to College program. These young people seize the opportunity offered to them and exceed what they once thought was possible for themselves.

When our 16 to 24 year olds are out of school and out of work, the costs of their nonparticipation are substantial. They lack the ability to support themselves and their families, and they have an increased reliance on public benefits. Through Gateway to College, these young people have a second chance.

Gateway to College National Network helps communities build pathways for disconnected youth to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential. We launch programs, build collaborative partnerships, and provide coaching, training, and support to our programs. For us to continue our success, we need your support.

Your gift helps us open new doors. For every $100 of private philanthropic dollars we invest, we are able to leverage $1,100 in public dollars.

Please consider a gift on Giving Tuesday, and help Gateway to College National Network put another young person on a pathway to a postsecondary credential and a lifetime of success. We cannot do this work without you. Thank you for your support.

Emily Froimson


[Careers] Development and Events Coordinator

Monday, November 28, 2016
Position Announcement
Development and Events Coordinator

Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) is searching for a Development and Events Coordinator, with responsibilities to organize all aspects of GtCNN’s annual fundraiser, coordinate events and donor campaigns, and support the GtCNN President. This position is part of a five-person Development & Communications team.

GtCNN is a Portland-based education nonprofit organization with partner programs in 21 states. We support communities in building sustainable pathways for disconnected youth to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential. More information about Gateway to College National Network is available at

• Organizes all aspects of GtCNN annual fundraising dinner.
• Coordinates individual donor campaigns, donor renewals, and acknowledgment letters.
• Updates and maintains records in the GtCNN database.
• Coordinates communication with new members and renewals for GtCNN Presidents’ Council.
• Researches prospective donors in targeted regions, arranging meetings with GtCNN President and AVP External Relations, where applicable.
• Coordinates all logistics related to GtCNN events, including Board and Ambassador Council meetings, Gateway Gathering lecture series, donor events, and one-time events, as needed.
• Under the direction of GtCNN President, prepares materials for quarterly Board of Directors meetings.
• Supports GtCNN President on travel logistics and scheduling, and on special projects.
• Supports Director, Foundation Relations in donor research.
• Ensures accuracy, consistency and quality in GtCNN written materials.
• Other related duties which may be necessary to support GtCNN success.

Supervision & Reporting
• This position is an individual contributor and does not have supervisory responsibilities.
• Reports to Associate V.P., External Relations.

• Bachelor’s degree and two years of experience in a similar position (ideally within a nonprofit organization).
• Demonstrated experience writing, editing, and proofreading documents for high-level audiences.
• Proficiency in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and database software.
• Demonstrated experience coordinating event logistics.
• Good creative thinking, planning, time management, project management, and organizational skills.
• Ability to multi-task, prioritize, and work cooperatively in service of the organization’s mission.

Physical Demands / Work Environment:
Majority of work is completed in a general office environment. Minimal travel (10% or less) is required; travel is national in scope requiring travel by air as well as driving.

The starting annual salary for this position is between $35,000 - $40,000, consistent with professional experience and credentials. GtCNN offers a comprehensive benefits package. This is a full-time, salaried position located at the organization’s offices in Portland, Oregon.

TO APPLY: Please email a cover letter and resume to, with the position title in the subject line. We will begin reviewing materials on Monday, December 19, 2016. The position is open until filled.

Gateway to College National Network does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.

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[Infographic] Equity in Education

Friday, November 18, 2016

Five Questions with GtCNN: Dr. Rassoul Dastmozd

Thursday, November 10, 2016
  1. What systematic reforms are needed to ensure all students receive the individual supports they need to complete high school ready for postsecondary education or training?

  • • We need to rethink the “No Child Left Behind” concept. This concept only worked for the top 30% of high school graduating classes.  Unfortunately, we left the remaining 70% of the high school class behind.
  • • We need to identify students’ needs, align services that are based on promising practices, and use evidence based practices to promote student success.
  • • We need to rethink standardized testing and use alternative and multiple assessment tools.
  • • There must be better alignment between secondary and postsecondary curricula that reduces time to graduation and degree completion by removing barriers to student success; high school curricula should be aligned to give the student deeper levels of “meaningful and measurable College Readiness/Success Skills,” by reducing the needs for remedial and foundation skills once student transitions from high schools to postsecondary institution.

  1. What is the most effective way for higher education and K-12 to work together to support the success of disconnected youth?

  2. There are no “disconnected youth.” There are disconnected systems that create a deficit in achievement levels for students.

  3. As I alluded to earlier, there has to be a consistent coupling and integration of curricula (content and skill sets geared for student success) between secondary and postsecondary institutions.

  4. The process of educating our youth must be engaging and not simply driven by the Eurocentric model of education; yet, it must be culturally specific. 

  5. Gateway to College has proven to be such a model. By simply modifying the learning milieu and engaging students by using meaningful and intentional student success wrap around support services and strategies, positive results of student engagement, persistence, completion, and graduation can be experienced.

  1. What is the value of dual enrollment for young people and for their communities?

  2. It is a great opportunity for students to gain some college credits and experience college courses while attending high school. It helps them to understand the rigor and depth of college courses and they benefit from a cost savings for credits.

  3. The monetary values are cost savings for a high school student who takes college courses while enrolled in high school, cost saving for parents. 

  4. Having said that, dual enrollment is not for every student and not for every subject area.  For the student who takes college courses while attending high school, earning dual credit courses will ultimately lead to faster/earlier graduation and time to completion, which will have perpetual higher earning potential rates for the student. 


  1. College access has been receiving considerable attention in recent years. What are the biggest hurdles that remain in this area?


  • • Inadequate funding for college access.
  • • Low state funding and high tuition rates.
  • • Rethinking standardized testing, using multiple assessment tools, college readiness and remedial and foundation skills.
  • • Needing a coherent secondary to postsecondary education strategy.
  • • Current system of funding does not address and cannot accommodate the wrap around support services that are high touch and at a higher price point.
  • • Well intentioned advocates that are not practitioners but are advocating for policies to transform a system with complexities of both secondary and postsecondary institutions (i.e. bargaining agreements, state and local policies, and organization’s structure/limitations).
  • • Restrictive accreditation agency policies and compliance.

  1. What advice would you give to civic and state leaders who want to take more of a role in addressing high school graduation and college completion rates?


  • • Advocate to fully fund early childhood education. 
  • • Our completion and graduation challenges do not start and take root in high school. The challenges start well before that. We need to fully fund education at every level.
  • • Encourage and advocate for meaningful parent engagement, which is paramount to each child’s success.
  • • Advocate for competitive wages for teachers throughout the spectrum of the education. 
  • • Provide teachers the technology and human resources that they need to ensure student success.
  • • Advocate for safe and welcoming schools, including physical structures.
  • • Adequately fund after-school programs, such as tutoring and mentoring.
  • • Provide students with academic and social skills necessary so they are better prepared for college upon attaining their high school diplomas. 
• Investing in all levels of education should not be solely viewed as another funding mandate, but as a moral obligation and imperative.      

Dr. Rassoul Dastmozd is the president of Saint Paul College and a member of the Gateway Presidents' Circle.

Five Questions with GtCNN: Dr. Eileen Holden

Tuesday, November 01, 2016
What systematic reforms are needed to ensure all students receive the individual supports they need to complete high school ready for postsecondary education or training?
Providing career and college advising services to students while they are in high school is critical to helping them understand their options. The average ratio of high school students to guidance counselors is 400-500 to 1, making it impossible for schools to provide adequate support to all students. At Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School, the ratio is 199 to 1, which is still challenging. Additional advising staff would make it easier to address students’ individual needs.

What is the most effective way for higher education and K-12 to work together to support the success of disconnected youth?
Collaboration between higher education and K-12 institutions is crucial to supporting disconnected youth. Mentoring programs can provide students with much needed support that they may not receive at home. When K-12 and higher education institutions work together, the success of K-12 students is more viable, and the transition of high school graduates to college programs is less challenging. More opportunities for collaboration between higher education and K-12 institutions are needed.

What is the value of dual enrollment for young people and for their communities?
Dual enrollment is invaluable. Introducing students to the college environment and academic expectations prepares them for their future college experiences. Dual enrollment eases students into the often intimidating processes of selecting courses, applying for financial aid, accessing academic advising, etc., readying them to successfully navigate college on their own when the time comes.

College access has been receiving considerable attention in recent years. What are the biggest hurdles that remain in this area?
Affordability is the largest hurdle. A student’s financial situation, even with financial aid, continues to be the largest hurdle to college access. Students are often working multiple jobs in order to support themselves, their families, and their education. These pressures limit the ability of students to complete their college education in a timely fashion.

What advice would you give to civic and state leaders who want to take more of a role in addressing high school graduation and college completion rates?
Community and corporate partnerships help schools offer more engaging educational experiences to their students. Being able to offer internships at local companies, or through state-funded programs, can go a long way toward increasing high school and college completion rates, because such opportunities help students connect what they’re learning to the real world and set long-term goals for their education and their lives.

Dr. Eileen Holden is the president of Polk State College and a member of the Gateway Presidents' Circle