Gateway Student Profile: David

Thursday, April 06, 2017

David Thain is a Gateway to College student at Riverside City College in Riverside, California. 


David loves parables and analogies. During our conversation, he brought up the story of Icarus as an illustration of missed opportunity. And he compared education to water: in order for water to be useful, you need to know how to utilize it, not merely that it exists. David says that when he was young he couldn’t wait to grow up. Now, with newfound curiosity, he wants to take advantage of his educational opportunities to learn as much as he can. After he finishes the Gateway to College program at Riverside Community College, David plans to complete his general requisite credits at Riverside before transferring to UC Berkeley to study environmental engineering, chemistry, or linguistics.


Not long ago, David’s outlook on education was very different. He started kindergarten normally but, by the end of grade school, he was getting into fights. In middle school, things became more difficult and he no longer wanted to attend school. David started ditching, drinking, and hanging out with the wrong people. These activities pulled him away from an “I can do it” mentality. Throughout 8th grade and freshman year, David didn’t leave the house. He spent his days watching anime instead. In sophomore year he started school again but stopped caring after one month. This manifested into skipping half days and eventually ditching the entire school day with friends. During all of this, David was going through major changes in his home life. His mother died when he was fourteen. His brother became involved in gangs, and his father moved the family to a new neighborhood for a fresh start. For those closest to David, education was regarded as an obligation, not as an opportunity. Growing up, he knew that he was expected to complete school, but he did not see this happening with everyone around him.


By senior year, David didn’t know how he was going to complete high school. There was a requirement of 225 credits to graduate and he had earned 10. One day his counselor, Mr. Estes, mentioned Gateway to College. David was immediately interested because of the chance to attend college classes. At Gateway, David slid into his old habit of procrastination until, after three months, he was given an ultimatum: complete two units by the original due date. In most cases, it takes two weeks to complete two units worth of work. David was given a single day to finish. This ultimatum marked a turning point for him. David completed the assignment on time and began to understand something that he had not at traditional high schools: “If I don’t figure out how to learn to the best of my ability, then I won’t learn."


David credits Gateway with teaching him a sense of responsibility; he enjoys the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies a finished assignment or task. This makes him recognize and appreciate his power. At traditional schools David felt that he was merely given a pen and paper and then blended in with a bunch of other students. In contrast, he feels welcome at Gateway to College and likes that he is treated as an adult. Counselors’ doors at Gateway are always open to him: “If something is upsetting, they take the time to sit with me, understand my level, and explain things”. After joining the Gateway to College community, David learned that he is not the only one who has struggled with school, lost a parent, and rejected opportunities. David knows that his past is often misunderstood, but he also knows that his community of support has helped him and taught him to better represent himself. One of the biggest lessons that he’s learned is that, before doing something, you need to imagine yourself doing it. David imagines himself working in the sciences, and likens his own transformational experience to terraformation of planets. After completing his degree in a scientific field, terraform machines may transition from a metaphor for life into his future career.



Gateway to College National Network announces Stephanie Davolos as New England Regional Director

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Contact: Glenn Fee



PORTLAND, Ore., March 21, 2017 – Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) is pleased to announce that Stephanie Davolos has been selected as its New England Regional Director. Ms. Davolos most recently worked at Holyoke Public Schools, where she served as Chief of Staff to the State Receiver (State-appointed Superintendent). Prior to HPS, she served for eight years as Executive Director to The Sizer School, a grade 7-12 charter “Essential School” in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and was the first Massachusetts Regional Director for Citizen Schools, a national network of extended-learning programs.


In her role as Regional Director, Ms. Davolos will work closely with New England Gateway to College programs to develop additional partnerships in the region and support programs to strengthen student outcomes. Recently, GtCNN announced 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 of six new programs that will begin 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 39 nationally, with programs operating in 21 states.


“With a regionally-based director, GtCNN will accelerate our efforts to reengage off-track and out-of-school youth, ensuring more vulnerable students have a pathway to postsecondary success,” stated Emily Froimson, President of GtCNN. “GtCNN is fortunate to have found in Stephanie someone with a deep commitment to educational equity and high quality programming.”


The two new programs will join six Massachusetts programs that are already providing a pathway to high school graduation and a meaningful postsecondary credential for vulnerable youth across the state. Bristol Community College plays host this week to the Gateway to College National Network’s New England new program kickoff where leaders from Roger Williams and North Shore will join colleagues for a two-day new program training as they prepare to enroll students in Gateway to College programs in the fall. The kickoff will position these community partners to create a pathway for students in collaboration with public high schools in their communities.


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 to Career builds partnerships, steers students to meaningful careers

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Despite a strong economic recovery, business leaders in communities around the country have expressed concern about a skills gap among high school and college graduates. Secondary education leaders in many places have strengthened their Career and Technical Education programs, and community colleges are offering stackable credentials in fields such as coding. For many Gateway to College students, simply graduating high school with college credits is a remarkable accomplishment. For these students to take the next step in discovering a career that is meaningful to their families and communities, we believe that a more intentional connection is necessary.

Gateway to Career is an ambitious project that GtCNN has launched in seven communities around the country. The project, which is supported through funding from Strada Education, will connect opportunity youth to career planning, preparation, experience, and placement. The beginning of Phase 1, which wraps up this summer, conducts landscape analyses in each community. The analyses will determine available resources, career preparation programs, internship, mentorship, and job opportunities, and the capacity of each program. The overarching goal of this project is to improve the career readiness of Gateway to College students by the time they graduate.


In the latter stage of Phase I, we will convene with Gateway to College program staff and local stakeholders for a strategic planning session that will develop action plans for each community. The action plans will vary across communities, but they will share the common goal of connecting Gateway to College youth to effective career programming. The action plans will include measurable results using WIOA’s (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) 14 youth program elements as a guiding roadmap.


Phase II of Gateway to Career will consist of launching the action plans in each community. The plans will leverage existing resources and funded programs, and connect Gateway youth to those resources. In select cities, we will be adapting Gateway to College services to enrich career programming, pathway design, and job experiences. The action plans will include sustainability measures that include discovering additional funding streams allotted to support opportunity youth in career programming.


The colleges and communities included in the Gateway to Career initiative include Portland Community College, Spokane Falls Community College, City College of Philadelphia, Camden County College, Madison Area Technical College, Riverside City College and Christel House/Ivy Tech Community College. By working to develop relationships where stakeholders in each community defines what’s important, GtCNN believes that we can place our young people on a pathway to a meaningful postsecondary credential and career.


PDX Bridge Student Profile: Desi

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Desi is a junior at Helensview High School and part of the first cohort of students in the PDX Bridge program. She is 17-years-old and on track to graduate this spring – one year early. Although she is doing quite well in school these days, Desi’s educational goals and expectations have changed dramatically over the last few years. Throughout middle school and her first year of high school, Desi was uninterested in her education. In a large school, it was very easy for her to skip class without anyone noticing, and she often did just that. As a result of judgement that she felt from others, Desi became discouraged and lost confidence in her abilities. In her words, she didn’t allow herself to shine.



In her sophomore year of high school, this outlook changed when she began attending a smaller school where she felt seen and supported. Teachers and people around her were very supportive and Desi started to believe in herself again. From there she skyrocketed and began wanting more; once she realized that she could do well in school, she found that she wanted to try harder. She asked family members and people in her school to hold her to her newfound expectations and to keeping pushing her in the best way that they could.


When her college success coach, Geoffrey Garner, told her about the PDX Bridge, Desi was excited. “It’s free and I can get college credit while still in high school? Who wouldn’t take this?!” Desi signed up for the program right away. Desi responded with a resounding “Absolutely!” when asked if her involvement in PDX Bridge has changed her outlook on education. Although initially nervous about starting her college career, she now feels confident in her ability to be a successful college student.


Desi credits PDX Bridge for its unique offering to youth who are affected by poverty, homelessness, and otherwise rough backgrounds. “These are usually the kids who the general populace doesn’t expect to do this kind of thing.” The homework load is kept at a manageable level for students who are still in high school, and instructors are willing to work with the students’ individual needs. Desi has been promoting PDX Bridge to anyone who would listen, including her teachers, principal, and other students. Not only has it been great for her, she has seen how helpful it is for other students.


Desi’s plans for the next few years include the start of her college career. She is excited to take the opportunity in college to explore her interests and potential future careers. On March 15 at Noon, Desi will join two fellow PDX Bridge students at GtCNN’s Gateway Gathering to share the story of her educational journey. Register for the event and join us for what promises to be an inspirational Gateway Gathering!


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 39 nationally, with programs operating in 20 states. The new programs will join six Massachusetts programs that 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



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