Engaging Partners to Serve More Students

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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In addition to the direct impact that our programs create in students’ lives, GtCNN supports more post-secondary pathways for all students in need, whether they’re enrolled in Gateway or beyond the immediate roles of Gateway programs. 

In 2014, GtCNN continued our work to establish a combined movement of the growing high school reengagement efforts and dual enrollment efforts, which have each gained important traction nationally. We advocated for greater high school reengagement efforts in all communities and high quality programs for reengaged students, providing them the same opportunities for post-secondary enrollment that are offered to on-track and high achieving students.

As a network born from inter-organizational collaboration, GtCNN is engaged in broad, collaborative national efforts that will help ensure that reengagement programs feature robust post-secondary pathways. Collective impact projects have created strong momentum for serving disengaged youth in dozens of communities across the country. In 2014, we expanded our support for these efforts in local, statewide, and national venues.

On the local level, we launched and convened stakeholder engagement projects in several communities where our partners work. In this work, we assist our programs in enlisting a broader range of local public and private organizations, all of whom have a stake in the education and career outcomes of all young people in their communities. We know that students have the best chance of success when given multiple pathways.

block-quote-2By convening a broad representation of organizations, we’re able to help school districts and cities better serve all of their students. An example of this work occurred at Essex County College in Newark, New Jersey, where GtCNN worked closely with Nikkie Constantine, the director of the college’s Gateway to College program. The Gateway staff at Essex identified community organizations whose work either directly or indirectly served students who enrolled in Gateway. We invited these organizations – which included school districts, youth-serving NGOs, community foundations, and Rutgers University – to meet at the college. We asked how we could move the dial to better support disengaged youth in Newark.

Key conversations and partnerships developed out of this stakeholder engagement. Academic advisors from Rutgers now visit Gateway to College classes on a regular basis to discuss academic pathways; two new school districts have the Essex Gateway to College program as an option for their students; and a pre-Gateway program has been developed to better prepare Newark Public Schools students for college success. When we work together with student success in mind, we all benefit.

On the state level, we have continued our work with education agencies and state-based networks to build support for dual enrollment as a reengagement strategy. In 2014, we focused these efforts in California, Massachusetts, and Washington. In each state, we played multiple roles: offering our expertise at early college and high school reengagement events, providing counsel to staff members of state education agencies, and taking on leadership roles convening state-based networks of practitioners. In California, our work expanded to include supporting legislative action to increase post-secondary access for our students. This work will continue to be a significant strategy for GtCNN.

Nationally, GtCNN expanded our role as a member of several coalitions and networks of advocates,
businesses, service providers, and philanthropic sponsors. We were proud to commit time and resources to growing networks such as the Opportunity Youth Network and the National Reengagement Network.

Building a movement that genuinely changes the approach and expectations for serving off-track and out-of-school students requires strong, broad partnerships across sectors. Our membership in these networks amplifies our voice and mission and provides an opportunity to build the college-based dual enrollment movement.

We saw a continued interest in the expertise and experience that comes from operating Gateway to College programs, but even more so, the experiences of our staff and students is recognized as both transferable and crucial for the larger success of a movement which aims to significantly change the lifetime trajectory for disengaged youth.

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