What We're Reading - April 2015

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

reading-bannerAs a national network, Gateway to College works with a wide variety of school districts, colleges, and community partners from around the country. The national office understands that our programs face a complexity of issues, from local education policy to national trends in dual enrollment. As a group, we try to stay aware of these trends and issues through direct interaction with programs and partners, and in what we read.

Each month, the GtCNN Blog will feature a sampling of stories, trends, and videos that we’re reading and discussing in the national office. We invite you to share any stories that you feel we should be following. You can comment on our blog, or email Glenn Fee, our Director of Communications and Marketing, at gfee@gatewaytocollege.org.

Stories from our field that help inform our work

“Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States”, Annie E. Casey Foundation, February 2015.

  • Paper supports the use of the Supplemental Policy Measure (SPM), from the U.S. Census Bureau, as a more accurate measure of child poverty and the effects of safety net programs and tax policies on families.
  • The child poverty rates among Latinos (29 percent) and African Americans (29 percent) were approximately three times that of whites (10 percent), using the SPM. Poverty rates for American Indian children (26 percent) and Asian and Pacific Islander children (16 percent) also are significantly higher than the rate for white children.
  • Poverty rates by state vary dramatically, and the SPM measures poverty levels with and without government intervention.

“How a state where community colleges have been an afterthought is turning that around, Hechinger Report, March 6.

  • Three year graduation rate for students in Massachusetts community colleges ranks 30th, a low number for a state that prides itself in educational achievement.
  • Massachusetts has historically sent a higher number of its high school graduates to private institutions over public universities. For the first time, that number has shifted in favor of public institutions.
  • 69 percent of employers surveyed by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education say they’re having trouble finding workers with the skills they need.
  • Presidents of the 15 Massachusetts community colleges, nonprofit advocates, and business leaders see the current climate as an opportunity.

“Our Communities Must Become Education Collectives”, Education Northwest, March 10.

  • Blog post by Jerry Colonna, member of the state’s Board of Education.
  • Encourages Oregon communities to adopt a Collective Impact approach to education – “We have to strengthen communities as part of improving schools.”

“Next Phase for Gates’ Completion Agenda”, Inside Higher Ed, March 11.

  • Gates lays out a strategy “reboot”, with a focus on four priorities - data and information, finance and financial aid, college readiness, and innovation and scale.
  • Data piece will take precedent. Paper describes plan to “create a national data infrastructure that enables consistent collection and reporting of key performance metrics for all students in all institutions that are essential for promoting the change needed to reform the higher education system to produce more career-relevant credentials.”
  • Ten states will be emphasized in this work - California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

“Goldman Sachs Commits $2 Million to LaGuardia Community College”, The New York Times, March 11.

  • Gift represents one of the largest in nation’s history to a community college, and doubles the endowment at LaGuardia.
  • Goldman Sachs CEO – “Community college is a real accelerator to the middle class, and I can’t think of anything the country needs more than that.”

“A ‘promising’ way to help low-income students to and through college”, Hechinger Report, March 25.

  • Gap in college enrollment between richest and poorest students remains where in was in the 1970s, when the Pell Grant program was created.
  • Two researchers—Robert Kelchen of Seton Hall and Sara Goldrick-Rab of the University of Wisconsin at Madison—propose a pilot program guaranteeing the maximum Pell Grant to low-income eighth-graders who complete high school and enroll in college.

“Lawmakers try and try again to expand dual enrollment”, Ed Source, March 31.

  • Focus on three proposed bills in California to expand dual enrollment opportunities for students.

Stories with a Gateway to College focus or mention

“Program can be gateway to both diploma, degree”, Newton (IA) Daily News, March 6.

  • Newton Community School District approves MOU with DMACC.
  • DMACC now has agreements with Des Moines, Newtown, Knoxville, Norwalk and Carlisle Public Schools.
  • Ahmed Agyeman, associate director of program development at DMACC, hopes the college can also get agreements soon with the Ames, Saydel, Southeast Polk, Northeast Polk and West Des Moines districts.
  • Article describes challenges that Gateway helps some students overcome.
  • Mention of support from the WalMart and Gates Foundations.

“JKCF Vice President to Become President of Gateway to College National Network”, Jack Kent Cook Foundation website, March 9.

  • Announcement of Emily Froimson being named as GtCNN president.

“St. Paul works to reengage dropouts”, Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 12.

  • Star Tribune details new GtC program at St. Paul College.
  • Quote from Valeria Silver, St. Paul School District Superintendent.
  • Mention of the support from Edna McConnell ClarkSocial Innovation Fund, and Travelers Foundation.

“The Opportunity Summit was a defining moment in my life”, Opportunity Nation Blog, March 19.

  • Jahath Harriott, Gateway to College student at Massasoit Community College, describes his experience at the Opportunity Summit in Washington D.C.

Videos about Gateway to College:

  • Julius DeFour, Gateway to College Academic Success Coach at Spokane Community College, featured in a video produced by Spokane Public Schools.
  • South Texas College GtC students produce a hip hop video in support of their Gateway to College experience.

What We're Reading - March 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gateway to College National Network staff keeps a close eye on education policy, research, practice, and trends that might impact any of our 42 programs and our work to ensure that a greater number of students graduate from high school and have access to college. Our staff follows blogs and news feeds from national education leaders, foundations, education writers, and our partner institutions. In our national office, we consistently circulate impactful pieces and discuss their significance on our work. Each month, we’ll share some of our favorite work on the GtCNN Blog. Our hope is that if more of our friends and colleagues read what we find impactful, they’ll share and discuss this work, and encourage us to read even more. Enjoy!

“Closing Achievement Gap Would Boost Economy, Report Finds”, Philanthropy News Digest

“BCC Interim President Marti Joins Board of Directors of Gateway to College National Network”, CUNY Newswire

“Kate Brown on Education”, OPB News

  • OPB airs the entirety of Kate Brown’s comments from Reengagement Plus, citing them as evidence of her prospective education policy as Oregon’s new governor.

“Poverty Data Signal Urgency for Schools”, Education Week

  • A majority of the nation’s 50 million students qualify for free and reduced lunch, representing the first time their numbers have been in the majority.
  • States with the highest rates of low-income students are clustered in the south and west.
  • States are struggling with providing extra services needed in schools with high numbers of low-income students.

“U.S. High School Graduation Rate Hits New Record High”, U.S. Department of Education

  • Nation’s high school graduation rate is at 81%, the highest level since states adopted a uniform way of calculating grad rates five years ago.

“Increased graduation rates are great, and they don’t solve our equity problem”, GtCNN Blog

  • GtCNN’s Nick Mathern responds to the news of increased graduation rates, and contends that there is much more work to do.

“The Promise and Failure of Community Colleges”, New York Times Opinion

  • Community College graduation rates have been declining over the past decade.
  • Community Colleges have students with the greatest problems, yet the fewest resources.
  • Cites an MDRC study that showed dramatic improvement among CUNY students with wraparound support.

“Dropout Adjust Outcomes”, Inside Higher Ed

  • Summarizes a report published by the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Student Story: Learning to Go for the Gold Again

Friday, March 13, 2015

By Scott Fields and Andy Goodman

For the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, October 2013

RCC-Arianna-with-Family-ADJArianna couldn’t stand to miss a day of elementary school in Riverside, California.  When she was sick, she’d go anyway, telling her grandmother Pauline that she was healthy.  The young girl always had her eye on the perfect attendance trophy awarded at the end of the school year. She liked the gold metallic finish and the way it felt in her hands.

Pauline was proud of her granddaughter back then.  She was also glad she could provide a home where Arianna and her younger brother Abel could be safe.  She’d taken custody of the children when Arianna was 2 and Abel was just 10 months because of their parents’ addiction to crack cocaine, a habit that landed them in prison more than once.

Although her grandmother was Arianna’s anchor, life in her home was anything but stable, and Pauline was often moody due to her own ongoing battle with drug addiction.  The apartment was always crowded with aunts and uncles and cousins in financial trouble – not to mention Arianna’s parents and their other six children – who moved in and out at different times.

By the time Arianna was in tenth grade, her competitive spirit was sagging under the steadily growing weight of self-doubt.  She gravitated to the punk lifestyle, complete with piercings, patches and band shirts, and she hung-out with the local punk bands at Showcase Theater in Corona.  At John North High School, she was sure nobody liked her, fell way behind on her credits, and barely cared about her progress.   Both her parents had been dropouts, and she was about to follow in the family tradition.  ”I just felt like a number at school,” Arianna says. “I couldn’t get any help, no tutoring or nothing.”

When she ran into an old friend who was in the Gateway to College program, she was curious. When she heard about Gateway from another acquaintance, she began asking questions, wondering if perhaps it might be an alternative to dropping out of school.   She began to feel a stirring somewhere deep inside her, something long since lost.

One million American teens drop out of high school every year.  Gateway to College (GTC) was founded to enable young people who have left school to get back on track with their high school education and at the same time accrue college credit. The result is that they not only achieve a high school diploma, they also catch up with their peers who may already be on a path to a postsecondary credential.

First established in Portland, Oregon, the program expanded to the Riverside Community College (RCC) campus as the second of what are now 43 programs in 23 states. Success comes in large part due to following an evidence-based education model designed to reengage young people who have not been successful in the traditional high school environment.  Emphasis is on giving wrap around support from dedicated resource specialists, a practice that has proven successful in many other similar programs.   This means there is a caring adult who not only keeps a close eye on the academic progress of GTC students, , but who also understands and responds to the critical daily needs of a student who is facing adversity outside of school. The result is that 73.2% of Gateway to College graduates continue on to attend postgraduate studies. Although most Gateway participants enter the program well after they’ve dropped out of high school, some like Arianna go straight from public high school to GTC.  For these young people, all of whom were at high risk of dropping out, it’s just as much of a second chance.  “No one was ever very big on education in my family,“ Ariana says about her interest in the Gateway program. “My grandma wasn’t supportive at all.”  It was Arianna’s high school counselor who finally drove her to a GTC open house because she was curious about the program herself.  Says Arianna:  “I wanted to prove to my Grandma that I could do it.”

Arianna was interviewed, screened, and accepted into Gateway, and in the fall of 2009 at the age of 16, she began attending a one-week ‘boot camp’ orientation in the row of bungalows on the RCC campus that house Gateway’s school within a school.

Divided into ‘cohorts’ of 30 young people  each, the students then moved onto a ‘Foundation Quarter,’ including English and math classes for high school credit, as well as a guidance class for college credit where students are instructed in organizational skills, time management,  note taking, and how to work in groups.

“It seemed too good to be true,” Arianna says.  “The classes were a lot smaller than at my high school, and the teachers would come to me instead of me going to them,” a big plus for a girl who Robin Acosta, a Gateway to College (GTC) Resource Specialist, remembers as shy and very withdrawn.

“We have students who’ve been to five high schools by their junior year and they’re just beaten down,” Acosta says.  “They’ve been told they weren’t going to succeed, and that’s self-fulfilling.  So they’re wary, and they’re not sure it’s going to work for them.  But then when they see that we have follow-through, it becomes a whole new experience for them. They become excited about school again.”

Arianna gradually emerged from her shell. “I had a guidance class, and everyone had to get in a circle and talk about ourselves and it got really personal,” she says.  “No one really knew me before.  I was able to open up here, have a new perspective and a new image.”  Eventually, “The cohort became like a family,” Arianna continues.  “If something was wrong, we helped each other out with it.  I made friends with people I would never have made friends with in high school.  I never would have opened up to them.”

“Once everyone could see what Arianna was all about, everyone loved her. I love her,” says Acosta. “I remember that she was volunteering all over the place, and she’s still doing that.”

Arianna appreciated that Acosta periodically checked to make sure she was getting enough sleep and eating reasonably healthy meals.  She was also very thankful when the school covered her $25 semester student fees because Pauline was unable to come up with the money.  Nevertheless, this incident “made me realize I had to do things for myself,” Arianna explains.  “That’s when I really stopped being shy. I had to put myself out there."

“Over the semester, I saw her confidence growing,” Acosta says. “How she carried herself was different.  Eventually, she removed the rings in her piercings."

The motivational speakers brought in by Gateway every Friday to speak to the students helped Arianna begin to see herself as a potential success story. “These speakers – whether it’s the Mayor of Riverside, the Sheriff of Riverside County, or a local celebrity -- help the students see themselves in a completely different light, as potential leaders.” says Acosta.

“Overriding everything, our goal here is to make the education relevant to the students, because many never understood how it was relevant before,” Acosta continues, noting that the students take a career counseling class during the RCC breaks.  “We ask them, ‘Where are you going, what’s your plan for your life… and we show them how everything connects.”

Of the 30 young people who started in the Gateway program with Arianna, approximately 20 students completed the Foundation classes.   “You need to be an adult here.  You have to take it seriously,” Arianna says, explaining that some participants run up against serious family issues, drug problems and sometimes prison time.  “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to help people stay in the program,” she says.  “I just want it so much for everybody.”

“College is a long term investment and sometimes the short term gets in the way,” Acosta says.  “Maybe they have to move out of the area, they get pregnant, or they have to work -- we have students working swing shifts and graveyard shifts and trying to go to school at the same time. One of the reasons our program is year-round is that we know we’re in a race with what’s going to happen in their outside life.”

GTC Riverside Program Director and principal founder Jill Marks adds that “We hang in with these kids – when they’ve been sick, when they’ve lost parents, when they’ve wanted to quit – we try to keep them focused, but it’s also their peers -- what the students do every day for each other, to keep each other going, to focus each other on high school, on college and career goals… that’s key to the program.”

“We take it very hard when kids don’t finish,” Marks continues.  “When they make poor decisions that lead to consequences such as homelessness and incarceration … it hurts us.”

Arianna completed the high school program in December of 2010, proud to have 30 college credits already under her belt.  Given priority in registering for college classes due to her Gateway status, she was able to take all of the classes she wanted on RCC’s upper campus, made up of modern buildings surrounding an iconic Mission style quad built in 1916.  After class on most days, she’d go down to the Gateway bungalows to visit faculty members for advice, or to consult the Gateway writing coach.  She also dropped by to see Acosta at least twice a week for the required ‘Practicum’ sessions, where Acosta checked in with her on class work and homework.

“There’s no manual for going to college,” says Arianna.  “Gateway really helped us out in terms of resources, whether that was using their printer to print papers or obtaining help with financial aid applications.  It’s another reason I succeeded.”

Arianna has found that she is often more prepared for her college classes than her non-Gateway peers. When a PowerPoint presentation was required for a group presentation in her communications class, she was the only student who knew PowerPoint.  “I had to help everyone else,” she says.

In the spring of 2013, as Arianna was coming close to earning her 2-year Associates Degree from RCC, she was accepted as a transfer student into the University of California Riverside, UCLA, and UC Davis.  She chose to stay close to home – and to her Gateway family -- accepting UC Riverside’s offer of admission.

“The program becomes a touch point for the students for years after they leave here,” Marks says. “Sometimes they may need help with college or job applications.   Sometimes they make bad decisions and they’re temporarily homeless and need transitional housing… Of course, they share their successes too.  They come back to tell us about their academic successes, their marriages, their children – It really does become a family.”

“Hopefully, they stay in touch with each other for the rest of their lives,” Marks continues.  “That’s a very important part of the story.”

At one time in her life, Arianna assumed she’d never get a decent job.  Now at 20 years old, she has excelled as the social media marketing expert and web content developer at the Riverside YWCA. The classes she took in web design prepared her for the part-time position, which was funded through an RCC Federal work-study program. The many hours she has spent over the past few years with the Gateway writing coach is clearly evident too.

Arianna tries to be as professional as possible.   “I started feeling weird wearing my punk band t-shirts to work. I wanted to look respectable.  My friends think I’m a sellout, but whatever…  I’m going to make more money than them.”

In fact, many of Arianna’s pre-GTC friends never graduated high school.  Most don’t have jobs or even want them, instead choosing to panhandle on street corners.  When they ask Arianna for a loan, she’s been forced to put up boundaries because she finds that they don’t pay her back. “They think I’m rich because I have a job.  I’m not rich,” she says.  “I just work.”

Others speak of the positive impact Arianna has had on them, a ripple effect which is another benefit of GTC's program. Abel, now employed fulltime in a warehouse, says, “Arianna motivates me to get up and go to work.”  One of their younger sisters is now enrolled at UC Santa Barbara, largely because of Arianna’s example. She’s also very dedicated to giving back to the Gateway program, speaking at high schools around the Riverside area. “If it wasn’t for Gateway, I wouldn’t be in college today,” she says.  “I want to help other students because if I can do it, they can do it.”

As her first year at the University of California approached, Arianna decided to add a second major in Business Administration because she sees it as more practical than her English major, and because her primary goals are now career and financial success.  As a young woman who is clearly poised to make a difference in her world and the world at large she is ready to step through the gateway to success.  She’s eager to foster the competitive edge she’s rediscovered and to once again go after the gold.

As of September 2013, approximately 840 new spaces have opened for young people like Ariana Gonzalez on ten new Gateway to College community college campus sites in California, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This brings the total number of active locations to 43 in 23 states. Gateway to College National Network hopes to continue to expand operations and deepen its impact in established programs to meet the ever-present demand across the country.

About Gateway to College National Network

Gateway to College National Network builds the capacity of colleges, school districts, and states to revolutionize education for high school dropouts and underprepared college students so that all young people can achieve college credentials. Our strategies include creating and replicating innovative programs, building partnerships between K-12 and higher education institutions, influencing systems, conducting research and sharing what we know, helping effect policy and regulatory changes, and providing customized consulting services to philanthropies, colleges and school districts. www.gatewaytocollege.org, @gtcnn.

Gateway Financial Management Handbook Resources

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Based on input and observations from many partner programs, GtCNN research has shown that meeting or exceeding stakeholders’ expectations is a significant indicator of program health and sustainability. GtCNN received funding from the Kresge Foundation to address and improve the sustainability of GtC programs. An important factor in program sustainability is funding. We have developed three training modules with content that will enable GtC directors to better understand, plan and manage GtC finances to meet stakeholder’s expectations.

 We initiated some research in 2014, surveying all GtC directors and completing in depth interviews with selected directors and stakeholders including a college president.  We also looked at the financial data to understand the patterns and the overall financial health of the network.  We found that, for the most part, Directors felt responsible for their revenue and budgets, but felt they had little ability to influence most of the elements.  Few directors had a solid understanding of their stakeholder’s expectations of the GtC program.  And across the many GtC programs, there was significant diversity of financial knowledge, tools and processes. 

As we studied the financials of both open and closed programs, we found diversity in financial structure (some colleges provided tuition as in kind, others did not.  Some programs had very strong K-12 funding, etc.).  With one exception, programs which closed had a financial structure that burdened the stakeholders beyond what they had committed. Based on our research, we developed a training plan which is comprised of three major topics. 

Module One: Basic Financial Structure of a GtC Program and Completing the Financial Reporting Template

Module one is a short audio training that covers basic financial concepts and structure of a GtC program. It also introduces the revised financial submission format and includes instructions for completing this annual submission. 

Participants are provided an in depth overview of the financial components of a GtC program covering topics such as Revenue, Expenses, In-Kind, Program Balance, and provides a graphical representation of the expenses versus revenue. Participants will understand the foundational principles of a GtC budget.This online narrated presentation provides an overview and detailed instructions for completing the Financial Report: 

GtC Financial Reporting Training Module.wmv

If you would prefer to read the presentation rather than view it online you will need two files:

Annotated PowerPoint file: GtC Financial Reporting Training for GWL.pptx

Notes from the narrated walk-through of the Financial Report spreadsheet: Reporting training - talking points.docx

Module Two: Stakeholder Expectations and Financial Planning for Sustainability

Module Two focuses on both understanding stakeholders’ expectations and planning your GtC budget for sustainability.  Participants will increase their understanding of how the GtC program impacts key stakeholders i.e., school districts, colleges, students, etc., and can lead to better planning and greater influence.

Webinar Recording

Powerpoint: Financial Reporting Training

Sample Financial Report and Budget Planning Tool

Stakeholder Contributions and Benefits slide

Critical Questions to Ask Stakeholders slide

Module Three: Achieving and Maintaining Financial Stability of Your GtC program

The materials here used at the the 2015 Director's Convening and builds on the concepts and information in Module 2. This content can help directors to identify strengths, gaps, and actions to take which support improved sustainability with regard to meting stakeholder expectations for your program.

Powerpoint: Achieving and Maintaining Financial Sustainability of Your GtC Program

Sample Financial Reports

Financial Stability Scenarios and Actions to Take (Directions are included in the attached document)

Actions to Achieve or Strengthen Program Financial Sustainability

    Gateway to College National Network Announces Emily Froimson as New President

    Tuesday, March 03, 2015

    Emily-Froimson-PresidentPORTLAND, Ore., March 3, 2015 – The Board of Directors of Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) has announced that Emily Froimson will serve as its next president. Ms. Froimson’s hire comes after a national search, and she will join the Portland, Oregon-based organization on April 6.

    Ms. Froimson will step into the role of president after more than 10 years of GtCNN program expansion, supported by major national funding partners, into 42 programs in 22 states. In her role as president, Ms. Froimson will build upon the successful growth in programs as the organization diversifies revenue, extends its impact in education policy and research, and expands educational opportunities and pathways for off-track and out-of-school high school students and underprepared college students. Ms. Froimson will serve as external spokesperson for GtCNN and will work to raise the organization’s ability to help more students achieve college credentials and strengthen the educational pipeline communities need to develop the workforce of the future.

    “We are very pleased to welcome Emily Froimson as president of Gateway to College National Network,” said Martha Lamkin, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Her considerable expertise in serving youth will further strengthen Gateway’s national work to increase student access to opportunity through education.”

    Ms. Froimson comes to Gateway to College National Network with nearly 20 years of leadership experience in organizations that seek to improve educational opportunities and pathways for low- and moderate-income students. Ms. Froimson joins GtCNN after ten years with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, where she most recently served as vice president of programs. Prior to her work with the foundation, Ms. Froimson served as Executive Director of Greater Phoenix Youth at Risk (New Pathways for Youth), an organization that provides mentoring, after-school, and summer programs for high risk youth.

    "It is a privilege to join Gateway to College National Network, an organization that has transformed the lives of thousands of students who left high school or were at risk of dropping out,” Ms. Froimson shared. “I look forward to working with the board and staff to expand Gateway's reach to improve educational pathways for thousands more vulnerable students."

    Ms. Froimson holds a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College, and a law degree from Boston University. She has served on the board of directors of the National Scholarship Providers Association since 2008, including as president, and currently serves on the board of trustees of Phi Theta Kappa Foundation.

    About Gateway to College National Network 

    Gateway to College National Network builds the capacity of colleges, school districts, and states to revolutionize education for high school dropouts and underprepared college students so that all young people can achieve college credentials. Our strategies include creating and replicating innovative programs, building partnerships between K-12 and higher education institutions, influencing systems, conducting research and sharing what we know, helping effect policy and regulatory changes, and providing customized consulting services to philanthropies, colleges and school districts. www.gatewaytocollege.org, @gtcnn

    Gateway to College Alumni Shares Success as a Gateway Grad, and What Got Him There

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    Nick is a Gateway Grad from Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Read his story of personal and professional growth as he found a place in Gateway to College where he could play to his strengths and focus on an end goal. 

    Can you tell me a bit about yourself? How did you wind up at Gateway? Why didn’t traditional high school appeal to you?

    I grew up in a fairly well-off family. My father was a commercial pilot/small business owner and my mother was a stay-at-home parent for the first ten or so years of my life. My parents never tried to force their views or opinions on my sister or I and I believe that had a lot to do with why I ended up withdrawing from high school.

    When I was thirteen, my parents told me they were going to get a divorce. My life fell apart at that point. There was so much legal and emotional drama going on at home that it became all I thought about at school. Thinking about the divorce eventually led me to thinking about getting away from it, and that decreased my attention to my studies even more. Eventually I got to a point where I was failing every class that I was taking. All I wanted to do was to get away from my parents’ divorce as quickly as I possibly could; I knew at that point that I had to leave high school.

    I had been obsessed with design since I was young. Experimenting with photography, photoshop, and illustrator became my favorite thing to do. I would research design on the internet basically all day long, even at school. But in the ten years that I spent in K-10 (I didn’t finish grades 11 or 12), I believe there was only two design classes ever offered to me. Excessive research brought me to the conclusion that the only way I was going to be able to learn design right away was by going to college.

    Running Start was my first pick but it wasn’t what I expected. The requirements inside of RS still force you to take classes in subjects that are very similar to what you would have taken in high school, just at college level. I still couldn’t take design classes like I wanted to. Finally, in 2009 a law titled SHB1758 passed in Washington State. It allowed me to withdraw from high school, earn an Associate’s Degree, and then be given a high school diploma at the same time.

    The day that I found that law, I called Lake Washington Institute of Technology and set up an appointment with the High School Programs office. That was when I learned about the Gateway to College program. I scored as a senior in college for every placement test that I took, but because of my 1.4 GPA from high school (I didn’t do my homework for over a year), I was forced to go into the Gateway to College program instead of Academy. The first quarter was a hassle because of the incredibly low level classes that I had to take, but I was grateful that I was getting a free education, so I sucked it up and made it through.

    Traditional high school doesn’t cater to different students. I knew what I wanted to do with my life as soon as I turned 13, but all high school did was shut down my dreams and make me “prepare for college.” It’s absurd that I couldn’t begin to study a particular field before I was college age. “Electives” were given to me but then my advisor told me that I wouldn’t get accepted into college without two years of a foreign language. That took up half of my “electives” and then there were only two quarters left to take classes that I actually wanted to take. The American educational system doesn’t need reform, it needs a complete redesign, from the ground up.

    What did you like about the Gateway to College program? In what ways did it work for you?

    Gateway allowed me to finally focus on what I loved, design. I graduated from college with a 3.84 cumulative GPA. It is absolutely incredible the difference it makes in your studies when you actually enjoy what you are learning. On top of that, the advisors involved in the Gateway program want, so badly, to see their students succeed. If you are having issues, they will sit you down and find out what is wrong, then fix it. Period.

    How did Gateway to College help you reach your goals?

    Gateway gave me a way out of a terrible education, it allowed me to focus on what I loved, and it taught me how to succeed. It focused very particularly on me and how I learn, and then adapted to me. Traditional high school forces you to adapt to it; Gateway is the exact opposite.

    What have you been up to since graduating?

    I’m very proud to say that I am now an Art Director for Wunderman, the largest advertising and digital media agency in the world. I was working full-time as a designer while I was in college, and then got hired at this job about three months after I graduated. Since being hired here I have worked directly on projects for brands such as Microsoft, T-mobile, and Gap. Gateway helped me accomplish one of the biggest goals I have ever had.

    If you could give current Gateway students one piece of advice what would it be?

    If you enjoy your classes and what you are learning, keep on going, you will never fail if you love what you do. If you don’t enjoy your classes and what you are learning, stop. Take some different classes or go travel the world and figure out what you actually want to do. Gateway allows you to succeed, but it is only different from a typical high school education if you actually know what you want to do.

    Describe Gateway to College in six words (or less)

    More valuable alternative to American education.

    Anything else you’d like to share?

    I just want to say thank you to everyone in the High School Programs office at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (especially Kim and Sara), to everyone involved in the overall Gateway to College program, and most importantly to Bill and Melinda Gates and any other supporters of the program for funding a program that makes a difference in so many people’s lives.

    You are all the reason why I have succeeded in my professional life and I promise I will give back to this world in some way to make up for the debt I owe you all.

    Kresge Work Update

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    KresgeFoundationLogoIn February, GtCNN submitted our annual report to the Kresge Foundation with a detailed recap of what we've been up to over the past year. The project, Building Gateway to College 2.0, spans a wide variety of program improvement goals and deepening impacts across the network—from community and stakeholder engagement to developing a program certification tool, this project serves to strengthen our entire network and help more students graduate and find their postsecondary pathway.

    In the second and final year of the grant project, GtCNN will develop best practices handbooks, professional development trainings, a network-wide communications strategy, and roll out the certification process that will help programs identify strengths and barriers to success and how best to serve our students. We’re very proud of this project and are excited to see programs’ impacts over the next year.

    Thank You for Giving Change

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Amazon SmileWhat does it mean to be someone’s champion? You listen, you believe, and you give change.

    In fall 2014, we launched our #GiveChange campaign to inspire community members and partners to learn about our students, to engage with their stories, and to give back to education—to give second chances to struggling kids who want to go back to school.

    Here’s the good news: you gave change! Many of you gave generously to GtCNN, helping us reach out to partner programs around the country, enroll more right-fit students, and provide capacity to create and maintain relationships with school districts, colleges, and new friends in support of our awesome and resilient student population. We thank you.

    This year promises to bring transformative change and new energy to GtCNN. We are so excited to grow our programming, develop new pathways to serve formerly disengaged youth, and to hear from you! You can be a champion to a student in need. #GiveChange and give back.

    GtCNN Co-Hosted National Convening Reengagement Plus

    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Student Speaking

    In December, Gateway to College was at the center of a national convening in Portland, OR. GtCNN co-hosted and sponsored the 4th annual Reengagement Plus conference, which brought together more than 250 experts from reengagement centers and programs representing 38 cities across the nation.

    Nick Mathern, GtCNN’s Associate Vice President of Policy and Partnership Development, served as emcee of the opening plenary and set the tone for the two-day event. “Sometimes you have to be the march before there is a march,” Nick shared, paraphrasing 2014 Gateway PLC speaker Bertice Berry and referencing the growing interest in reengagement work in cities around the nation. The conference has doubled in size in each of its four years, showing the importance that cities have placed on reengaging their youth.


    In Oregon, there has been strong recognition of and commitment to reengagement work. This was evident throughout the duration of the convening, and reinforced when Portland Mayor Charlie Hales hosted a reception at City Hall, and when the mayor and current Oregon Governor (then Secretary of State) Kate Brown participated in a panel discussion at Portland Community College. In her remarks on the panel, Secretary of State Brown framed our work in broad societal terms, stating that an achievement gap is an opportunity gap and should be unacceptable to anyone in elected office. Mayor Hales linked high school graduation to the future vibrancy of the city. “In Portland, in order to increase the high school graduation rate and prepare our future workforce, we’re focusing on dropout recovery as well as dropout prevention,” stated the mayor.

    Student session

    Participants were eager to share best practices over the course of the convening, and it was clear that cities with large delegations are beginning to recognize the importance of working together to provide multiple options for students. In a student panel led by GtCNN’s Prentice Davis, there was a consensus view among the students that they lacked a sense of connection before they dropped out. “I checked out before I physically left (high) school,” shared one PCC student. Audience members reflected on the importance of having wraparound services available to students to ensure their success.


    Throughout the two days, conference participants shared their perspectives on the gathering via social media. We brought many of these thoughts together – along with images and media coverage from the gathering – in a Storify page. The Reengagement Plus convenings have grown quickly in their short history. Communities around the country are clearly aware of the need to support this work, and there is a growing interest in building a larger network. Gateway to College is committed to continuing to work with our partners, including the National League of Cities, to serve as a sponsor and leader in future Reengagement Plus convenings.

    External Links

    http://www.opb.org/news/blog/newsblog/kate-brown-on-education/ - "Kate Brown on Education" OPB

    https://storify.com/gtcnn/reengagement-plus-2014-2015 - Reengagement Plus 2014 Storify

    http://www.nlc.org/find-city-solutions/institute-for-youth-education-and-families/expanding-youth-opportunities/expanding-youth-opportunities/reengagement-convening - "2014 Reengagement Plus" National League of Cities

    Gateway to College National Network welcomes Dr. Eduardo Marti to Board of Directors

    Friday, February 13, 2015

    PORTLAND, Ore., February 3, 2015 - Gateway to College National Network announces the election of Dr. Eduardo Marti to its Board of Directors. Mr. Marti will travel to Portland, Oregon, in February for his inaugural meeting with fellow trustees.

    An advocate for high standards and traditional values of education, Dr. Marti has been a national leader in community colleges and higher education. His experience and leadership will further elevate the work of Gateway to College National Network to empower youth who have dropped out of high school or are not on track to graduate to earn a diploma and dual credit in a supportive college environment.

    “I look forward to applying my leadership experience with community colleges to advancing the work of an organization that is making an impact in communities across the country,” shares Dr. Marti.

    Dr. Marti served as Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges of the City University of New York and currently serves as Interim President of Bronx Community College. He served as President of Queensborough Community College from 2000 to 2010. Dr. Marti received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees from New York University, and has been a community college leader for more than 25 years. Dr. Martí also serves on the Board of Trustees of Teachers College at Columbia University, as a member of the Board of Governors of the Council for Aid to Education, and as a member of NYS Governor’s Commission on Education Reform.

    Laurel Dukehart, president of Gateway to College National Network, states, “Dr. Marti brings a wealth of experience and true passion for the students we serve. It’s a privilege to welcome him to the board.”

    Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) partners with 43 colleges and more than 150 school districts in 23 states to help struggling students earn a high school diploma and achieve success in college.

    Dr. Marti joins eight other directors on the board, chaired by Martha Lamkin, retired founder and CEO of the Lumina Foundation for Education.

    About Gateway to College National Network
    Gateway to College National Network builds the capacity of colleges, school districts, and states to
    revolutionize education for high school dropouts and under-prepared college students so that all young
    people can achieve college credentials. Our strategies include creating and replicating innovative
    programs, building partnerships between K-12 and higher education institutions, influencing systems,
    conducting research and sharing what we know, helping effect policy and regulatory changes, and
    providing customized consulting services to colleges and school districts. For more information, visit our website www.gatewaytocollege.org, follow on Twitter @gtcnn, or Facebook.


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