Featured State: Gateway to College in California

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jessica Zambrano, now a 4.0 student at Gateway at Santa Rosa Junior College, nearly gave up on her education. With her mother frequently hospitalized from a chronic illness, Jessica was the primary caretaker for her three younger siblings. At 16, Jessica had to quit school and eventually held three jobs trying to make ends meet when her mother was hospitalized.


Jessica and her siblings were eventually placed with other family members and foster homes, which was difficult but alleviated the intensive responsibility of caring for her siblings.


Jessica joined Gateway to College fiercely determined to succeed. “I saw the opportunity I needed to be something and do something with my life,” she said. In Gateway, she found support, not judgment, for her difficult path. With a 4.0 grade point average her first semester and perfect attendance, her future looks bright.


California has challenges in serving its large and diverse group of high school students. With the highest student-counselor ratio and largest homeless and foster youth populations in the nation, California schools, like some of the students they serve, need support. Gateway to College National Network is committed to facilitating support systems and partnerships to serve California’s hardest-to-reach students, like Jessica. California enrollment in Gateway programs has now surpassed all other states, with 955 students served in academic year 2014-2015.


GtCNN has opened seven programs in California, including our first replication site in 2004: Riverside Community College (Riverside), Santa Rosa Junior College (Petaluma), Contra Costa College (San Pablo), City College of San Francisco (San Francisco), Laney College (Oakland), Los Angeles City College (Los Angeles), and Shasta College (Redding).


"This is the second college to which I’ve brought Gateway to College,” says Dr. Frank Chong, Santa Rosa Junior College president and member of GtCNN’s President’s Circle. “I've seen close up what a successful model Gateway to College is. It’s innovative, honest, powerful and it works."


Building partnerships is key to serving the diverse needs of California’s student population. GtCNN has welcomed our first Gateway Affiliate member, Berkley City College, to expand our impact on underserved youth in the state.


GtCNN has extensive roots in California communities, especially the Bay Area and Los Angeles Metropolitan area. Jill Marks serves as GtCNN’s dedicated California State Director, located in Los Angeles. GtCNN’s goal is to have twelve programs in California by 2020, so more students like Jessica can have a second chance at earning a high school diploma. 


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