PDX Bridge, Program to Support College Achievement for Young People in State Care, is Launched

Wednesday, September 07, 2016


Contact: Glenn Fee

Associate Vice President, External Relations



PORTLAND, Ore., September 6, 2016 – Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN), a Portland-based nonprofit, announces the launch of PDX Bridge, a partnership to provide a bridge from high school to college completion for some of Oregon’s most vulnerable youth.

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 47th 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, and only 3% obtain a postsecondary credential, compared to 40% of their peers. GtCNN President, Emily Froimson, on why this program is so important to our region: “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.”

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 – led by gifts from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, The Collins Foundation, and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund – has recognized the need to support underserved youth, and has contributed $205,000 in support of the program launch. “Gateway to College has a proven track record helping each student find a pathway to postsecondary education. We are happy to support PDX Bridge and provide access to important educational supports for homeless and underserved students in state care,” shared Martha Richards, executive director of the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

On September 15, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., GtCNN will host its latest Gateway Gathering, a series of discussions aimed at examining educational challenges for vulnerable youth in Portland. The September 15 Gathering, to be held at the Northwest Health Foundation in Portland, will feature four students from PDX Bridge partner organizations, who will share the obstacles they overcame in completing high school and getting on track to a meaningful postsecondary credential.

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.  www.gatewaytocollege.org, @gtcnn

[Gateway Student Voice] Reflections of a Student Panelist

Thursday, September 01, 2016

At Mount Wachusett Community College, Gateway to College resource specialists put on a Gateway Student Panel during the new student three-day orientation in which both returning students and alumni share their experiences about what it's like to be in the Gateway to College Program at MWCC. The objective is to give incoming students a look at what Gateway is like from an experienced student's perspective. Eden Shaveet tells her story of serving on the student panel. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my advisor asking me to partake in a panel for the incoming Gateway to College students at Mount Wachusett Community College. I agreed, of course, and cleared my calendar. 

The day of the panel, I dressed to the nines and carried my business card in my pocket like the real grown-ups do. When I arrived on campus, I sat with the other student panelists in a resting area near a lecture hall and talked about the lives we’ve lead since we had all last been together. When we entered the room in which the panel was going to be held, I sat down in a chair and went through my daily motions: I checked my MWCC staff email and confirmed my attendance at the events and meetings occurring later in the week. I adjusted my schedule, texted my co-worker to solidify details of an event we were set to facilitate on campus, and I double-checked to make sure my calendar was set to “busy” for the next two hours so that there would be no disruptions throughout the duration of the panel. When I put my phone down and looked up, I realized that nearly 30 pairs of eyes were glued to me.

Some faces were familiar. I recalled interviewing them earlier in the summer to determine whether or not they were cut out for the program. By the nervous waves and smiles I received, they seemed to recognize me too.

As I sat there, looking out over everyone, I felt a sort of discomposure that I couldn’t quite explain. It was a feeling very similar to the one I felt the day I attended my own panel as an incoming student, and watched as returning and former Gateway students opened up about their personal experiences in college. I remember being 17, watching them from the back of the room, and making it a point to remain as distant from social interaction as possible. My attention, however, was continuously being grabbed by one student panelist whose undeniable confidence resonated with me. She was a girl who had made a name for herself on campus, who spoke with a kind of certitude and conviction that both terrified and intrigued me. I was scared of her. I admired her. I envied her.

And now, as I sat in front of all these new, anxious faces, I was her.

So many things have happened within the course of a year. In fact, I sometimes find it difficult to believe that it’s only been a year since my journey in the Gateway to College program began. Perhaps that’s why I found it so strange to look out over the new faces of Gateway; I remembered that only 12 months ago, I was in their position – anxious, unsociable, and wondering how anyone like me could possibly succeed in the college environment.

Looking out at these new students, I felt for them. I wanted to be their friend and to guide them through this new chapter of their lives, but I also recognized that in order for them to grow as individuals and students, they will need to discover and face these challenges themselves.

And while I’m excited to witness how their journeys unfold from the sidelines, I want them to feel comfortable approaching those of us who have been in their position before.

I want them to know that I’m on their side.


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.

[Gateway Student Voice] What It’s Like to Come Back to School After 4 ½ Years

Thursday, August 04, 2016

During the spring of my 7th grade year, I decided that I did not want to go to school anymore. 

A seemingly tactless and unrealistic decision, I know, but I hoped it would make me happy after years of struggling with what seemed to be an unexplainable, perpetual sadness that worsened with each year I ignored it. After nearly a decade of jumping from school to school and transforming myself to fit each new social environment I was placed into, I grew tired of my “new girl” status and wanted space from everyone and everything I had once so desperately tried to become. 

By the end of my 7th grade year, I was enrolled into an online academy that held the promise of a new beginning away from the people and places that felt toxic to my wellbeing. 

By the time I turned 17, I was a despondent teenage catastrophe who had spent the last 5 years secluding myself from family, friends, and anything that bared a reminder of the life I gave up. By that time, I had withdrawn myself from academics completely. I felt like a disappointment. I couldn’t even bring myself to wake up in the morning for fear of remembering who I had let down and wondering why I never asked for help.

Upon acceptance to the Gateway to College program, my initial reaction was to jump with joy over the fact that someone saw something in me worthy of this second chance I so desperately needed. My second reaction was to stop jumping and allow my nerves to sink in over the fact I felt wildly unprepared for the college environment. I had been out of formal academic practice for nearly 4 ½ years (over a quarter of my life at the time), and now I was going to be a full-time college student? Was I crazy?

I felt anxious. Not the sort of anxious that is all-encompassing and debilitating to the point of dysfunction, but anxious in the sense that I was suddenly continuously aware of a dull yet very present ache in the pit of my stomach and forefront of my head whenever I imagined myself sitting in a classroom. I had this recurring dream where I failed every course in my first semester, which always resulted in my waking up in a nervous panic. At the time, failure seemed like an extremely likely possibility. 

A year has passed since the day I was accepted into the program.

I’d like to be frank in saying that my academic experiences in Gateway thus far have been extremely difficult. 

I would also like to be frank in saying that despite these difficulties, I have managed to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA, head multiple student-clubs, and am now even employed in a student leadership position on my college campus. 

For so long, the idea of attending college was a terrifying reality I never wanted to face. Not because I feared the prospects of education, but because I feared the prospects of failing to measure up to everyone around me.

But I was able to defy the odds, and you can too.

I can’t speak on your behalf, but I can speak based on what I have learned from my own experiences: if you spend all of your time worrying about what could have or should have happened in the past, you will miss out on the life you have been given to live at this very moment. It’s never too late.

Don’t give up on yourself. 


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.

Srimoyee Shanmugam, Data Analyst

Saturday, July 30, 2016
Srimoyee Shanmugam is a Data Analyst, and joined GtCNN in June 2016. She uses SQL, Stata, and Tableau to draw and evaluate program information to facilitate the national network providing informed support to partners. She contributes to survey development, distribution, and results analysis, and collaborates with the rest of the research and evaluation team to conduct relevant research.   

Srimoyee graduated with a BA in Economics from Reed College, where she focused on modelling Microeconomic applications of Game Theory. In her previous position, she did Data Analysis with the Centre for Intercultural Organizing. Srimoyee endeavors to uphold a commitment to use her own skills and educational background to help bring corresponding opportunities to youth.

Gateway at QCC Graduate Speech: Alexis

Friday, July 29, 2016

Like many Gateway to College students, Alexis’ journey to graduation was complicated. Through perseverance, belief in herself, and support from her community, Alexis overcame multiple hurdles to receive her high school diploma this spring through the Quinsigamond Gateway to College program. Alexis was the speaker at the school’s commencement, and she later shared her speech in front of her local school board, as a way to encourage support for more out-of-school and off-track youth in her community. We encourage you to spend a few minutes to read Alexis’ words, and gain a greater appreciation of the incredible students served by Gateway to College programs. See the video of her speech at 1:37 here.
So, when I sat down to write this thing, I had all of these ideas in my head of what a perfect graduation speech should be like, and I was picturing Lizzie McGuire stumbling across the stage after Kate Sanders calls her out for being an “outfit repeater,” or Troy Bolton talking about how we really are “all in this together." Then I kind of snapped out of it and realized the only graduation speeches I had ever seen were from Disney movies, and it probably wasn’t going to be as easy or comical as they made it seem. So, naturally I went into panic mode for a little bit and scrolled through Google for hours researching perfect speech writing techniques. I eventually calmed down when I realized if anyone was going to care about a pristine alternative high school commencement speech, it for sure wasn’t going to be this group of kids.
Starting now we have more important things to worry about, like financial aid, our careers, or who’s going to give us our weekly kick in the butt when we start slacking, that we all may have complained about, but when really without it, we probably wouldn’t be crossing this stage today. So Marci, Jenna, Vanessa – on behalf of all of us, we can’t even begin to thank you enough for all that you do, not only to keep this program alive, but for caring so much about each of our individual successes and doing whatever it takes to help us get there. You have instilled a new drive and passion toward our education in each of us that will continue on with us in all of our future endeavors.
Speaking of the future, there’s a quote that really struck me when I was reading about “second chances” one day by Steve Blank, a professor at Philadelphia University. He says, “People talk about getting lucky breaks in their careers. I’m living proof that the ‘lucky breaks’ theory is simply wrong. You get to make your own luck. The world is run by those who show up, not those who wait to be asked.” What this made me realize, and what I hope that my fellow classmates will remember as well, is that as much as Gateway to College has seemed like a dream second chance or lucky break to us, we have worked hard to be where we are right now, and that it's okay to glorify your own success. Always be thankful and humble, but also be prideful, as pride can be one of our greatest motivators. Remember that nothing in life is handed to you and you may not always be given a second chance in the future. Take every opportunity that comes to you because you have worked for it and now you're being rewarded.
It goes without saying that High School obviously wasn’t the best years of any of our lives. Whether it was physical or mental illness, family problems, or anything in between, we are all here simply because traditional high school just was not going to work for us, and personally it felt like I went through hell a dozen times and back. To summarize my four year long story in the shortest way possible, the summer going into my sophomore year, I made the decision to move from the high school I had attended the previous year, back to my hometown high school. I had decided that the negative energy and bad influences weren’t good for me to be surrounded by. Late August comes around and school starts again. I ended up getting appendicitis and had to miss the first month in my new school due to surgery. This set me back so far that there was almost no coming back from it, no matter how hard I tried. Still, with every complication, I managed to pass and move on to junior year. However, I was 10 credits short because of my absences due to the surgery. This didn’t worry me too much because Marlborough High has a credit recovery program. With the new school year approaching I put myself in a positive, motivated mindset and was ready to take on whatever came my way. I didn’t expect depression to get thrown at me. The mental illness quickly took over my life in the winter of my junior year. I was suffering in silence because I did not know how to express what was wrong with me and I had convinced myself that it wasn’t fair for anyone else to have to deal with my burdens. I missed school at least once a week and my teachers treated me like I was a nuisance when I asked for extra help.
Once again, I was falling behind. Even though I probably shouldn’t have, by some miracle I passed and made it to senior year. But the depression never got dealt with. Towards the end of my junior year, my family and I experienced an unexpected move to Hudson. My other siblings all had to transfer to Hudson schools, but because I had only one  year of school left, they told me I would  be allowed to stay and graduate with my classmates. It's the first day of senior year, and I get called into the Vice Principal's office. She tells me that I need to transfer to Hudson High school immediately, that Marlborough doesn’t have school choice and she does not know why I was led to believe I was allowed to stay. This became a huge problem because not only does Hudson High have higher credit and graduation requirements but they have no credit recovery program either. So going into my third high school, I needed to somehow make up the 10 credits I was missing, but also fulfill these new requirements. I signed up for 4, maybe 5 extra classes and was told that even if I passed all of those classes there would be a chance that I still would not have enough credits to graduate on time.
Through all of this my mother was married to an abusive alcoholic. We were living in a seemingly never ending inescapable cycle. In October of 2014 my mom decided enough was enough. We had no choice but to leave, for our own safety, with no money and where to go, and became homeless for almost 4 months. So with being homeless, having depression, and dealing with extra classes, my life was a bit of a mess. It interfered with my school work because I was always so worried about what was going to happen next and I did not have a reliable computer or internet. Not to mention, Hudson High did not know how to properly accommodate someone in such a rare situation. I was falling even more behind. Although I wasn’t going to graduate on time, or with my class, I had accepted the reality of my situation, and decided to make use of the resources available to me and, finish at my own pace.
That's when Gateway to College came into my life. Both semesters I have spent here have been very chaotic and filled with a lot of change for my family and I, but at this point we can pretty much handle anything thrown at us. This past semester I was hospitalized for my depression and finally diagnosed. I got the help I needed, but was missing school and falling behind again. After the hospital, I got pneumonia and missed even more school. I almost gave up and just decided to drop out because the universe obviously does not want me getting my diploma. I then decided to take a step back and really look at my situation. If I really wasn’t meant to graduate, I wouldn’t be here in the first place. I looked at everything that was happening to me as a defeatable challenge rather than a block in the road and decided to power through and finish the semester as best I could. Here I am, 4 years later, with a B average GPA, telling you all my story and feeling stronger than ever.
I want to take a minute to thank all of the people who helped me through this long, complicated process of getting my Uxbridge High School diploma, which is ironic because I don't think any of us have ever even set foot in that building. Anyway, to my Dad, thank you for not letting me give up, thank you for having faith in me when I had none in myself and for pushing me to want more for myself. Mom, thank you for being one of the only people who understood how hard school was for me and loving me even on my worst days. To my grandparents, thank you for making it your mission to help me through Gateway. Without your support and rides to class every day, I wouldn't be standing here right now. Lana, Charlotte and Timmy, you three are my sole motivation for everything I do. Whether you guys realize it or not you make me want to be a better person every day. Thank you for being my best friends. To my friends who I’ve known throughout high school, you guys experienced the hell with me so thank you for staying by my side no matter what I was going through. Lastly, to the friends that I have met through and since starting the program 2 semesters ago, thank you for being the most accepting, down to earth group of people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I felt more accepted with my peers here at QCC within a few weeks of knowing them than I ever did with 4 years of my classmates at “real” high school.
Anyways, enough sappy stuff before Jenna starts crying…
To the class of 2016, despite every obstacle the universe may have thrown at us during this journey, our pasts our behind us and we’ve finally made it. You have finally made it. Congratulations!

[Gateway Student Voice] Stress-Coping Strategies: Time Management

Thursday, July 07, 2016

We’ve probably all been there at one point or another – it’s 11:31 on a Sunday night and a paper assigned in your least favorite class is due the next morning in exactly 9 hours, 29 minutes.

You had the whole weekend to finish the assignment, but assured yourself with each passing hour that you had plenty of time to do it. There was always something more important grabbing your attention. You had to work. A meeting was held that you couldn’t miss. Your niece insisted that you stayed to watch the whole fairy princess movie series rather than just the one movie you initially agreed to.

I get it.

Balancing a heavy load of college coursework can be a challenging feat to undertake. Add working a job, staying true to familial commitments, or parenting to the mix, and falling victim to undesirable stress may be virtually inevitable.

While it may not be possible to eliminate the obligations that take time away from your studies, there are multiple tools available to help reduce the stress these circumstances cause – one of which being the ability to manage time: a useful strategy meant to help you evade “night-before cramming.”

Time management is a favorite stress-reducing tool of mine for the sheer purpose that it is not an avoidance strategy, but a prevention strategy. Committing to managing one’s time is unique in the sense that it tackles potential stress by way of intercepting it, rather than waiting until after the fact.

Here are my, personally tested and frequently used, tips on how to manage time in college:

The Busy Student’s Guide to Time Management

1.)   Compile Important Dates

To begin, mark down any important upcoming semester dates into a calendar.

-       Look through your syllabi to list tentative test, quiz, and project due dates

-       Mark down the dates of your midterms and finals as soon as you are made 

aware of them

-       Make note of any personal dates. Important family events and commitments 

should be taken into consideration


2.)   Take Inventory of Current Assignments and Ongoing Commitments

List all assigned coursework, as well as their due date (or prospective due date).

-       Make note of which professors assign homework on a regular cycle. Use this 

information to gauge a how you will incorporate that pattern into a schedule.

-       Figure out your non-school related commitments. Keep certain questions 

in mind such as:

  • What days do you work, and until what time?
  • Do you have weekly meetings for work?
  • Are there any days that your kids need to be taken anywhere after school?  
  • What day do you normally go grocery shopping?

3.)   Create Schedules

Once you are aware of all important dates and have a general idea of what you need to get done within a typical week, you can begin to lay out prospective schedules.

-       Long-term: Allocate specific amounts of time per week to work on sizeable, 

continuous objectives.

  • If you are aware of a challenging project due within the next month, designate 
  • between 1 and 2 hours each day to work on it.
  • If you are aware that your midterm is scheduled for 2 months into the semester, 
  • designate a particular amount of time each day/few days to review past material

  • -       Short-term: Allocate specific amounts of time throughout the day to work on 
  • small, fleeting assignments. Make weekly and daily schedules.
  • At the beginning of each week, establish what short-term goals must be 
  • accomplished.
  • At the end of each night, establish, review, or edit the short-term goals that you 
  • plan to accomplish the next day.

4.)   Allow Yourself to Rest

Always allot time in your schedule for periods of relaxation. Space things out so that you are not spreading yourself too thin within a short period of time. Give yourself 5 – 10 minute breaks between assignments, and at least one long break each day to do something you enjoy. At the end of the day, your mental state is the most important factor to consider over all else. Managing time, if done wisely, has the potential to save students a significant amount of “night before cramming” stress, but if taken overboard, may burn a student out before they’re able to receive any benefit. Listen to your body. Understand what you can and cannot handle, and always stay true to your individual abilities.

From one student to another, good luck in all your academic endeavors.


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.

Portland–based Gateway to College National Network receives $2.44 million grant for New England expansion

Thursday, June 16, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore., June 16, 2016 – Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN), a Portland-based educational nonprofit organization, has received a $2.44 million grant from Boston’s Barr Foundation. The award will support the addition of six new community college-based Gateway to College programs in New England over the next five years, as well as support program improvement and college-readiness initiatives in GtCNN’s regional programs.

“We are pleased to the support the expansion of Gateway to College programs in New England,” said Jenny Curtin, senior program officer for Education at the Barr Foundation. “Their proven model is linking thousands of disconnected youth to success in and beyond high school. We look forward to working with Gateway to College over the next five years as they build on their existing sites in Massachusetts (already some of the most successful in the country), and broaden their impact in our region.”

Gateway to College National Network supports 41 programs in 21 states, including six programs in Massachusetts. Nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in Gateway to College programs nationally, with nearly 2,200 served in Massachusetts since 2006. Gateway to College began at Portland Community College in 2000, prior to expanding nationally. The program at PCC currently serves nearly 300 students. 

In establishing programs, GtCNN partners with colleges and school districts to implement a dual-enrollment model, with a focus on 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.

"Gateway to College has been in New England since 2006 and our six Massachusetts programs are doing exceptional work,” GtCNN President Emily Froimson shared. “We’re grateful to the Barr Foundation for the opportunity to expand our New England presence and impact, as we work to put some of the most vulnerable youth on a pathway to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential."

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. www.gatewaytocollege.org, @gtcnn

About Barr Foundation
Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts for vibrant, vital, and engaged communities; advance solutions for climate change; and expand educational opportunity. With assets of $1.6 billion, Barr is among the largest private foundations in New England and has contributed more than $710 million to charitable causes since 1999. Barr’s Education Program is focused on the goal of connecting all students to success in and beyond high school. www.barrfoundation.org, @BarrFdn

Education Advocates, Students Share Strategies for Improving Oregon Public Education

Thursday, June 02, 2016
By Richard Greensted

A few times each year, the Oregon House and Senate Education Committees hold meetings in conjunction with Legislative Days, which provide an opportunity for constituents to share input on specific policy. At the Oregon Capitol last week, elected officials invited education advocates to share their work and knowledge on what we are getting right and where we need to improve in the state. There is no question that, when it comes to education, we have much to improve upon, as was noted on a few occasions by our leaders as they asked questions and commented. 
Testimony was heard from middle school students participating in a program called Researching and Empowering All People (REAP). They shared the leadership skills students are attaining through the program and ideas for improving our education system. The need for additional counsellors was noted, as was a desire for less focus on high stakes testing. Students also asked for culturally-relevant instruction including ethnic studies classes. 
Dr. Salam Noor, the recently appointed Deputy Superintendent for Public Instruction at the Oregon Department of Education, spoke at two meetings I attended – the House Education committee and the Senate Education Committee. Dr. Noor spoke alongside the president of the Oregon Education Association, where they discussed the work being done to develop a plan to meet the new federal requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Dr. Noor shared what he has learned from educators and the public across the state about how we should best assess and rate schools. He plans to have a draft proposal by fall that will include less of an exclusive focus on standardized testing, and a move toward a more balanced model that helps inform instruction. 
Finally, a discussion about out of school youth was presented. The Oregon Youth Development Council presented before the House Education Committee. They outlined the reasons we need to develop a statewide reengagement policy. The state average dropout rate is just over 4%, with rates as low as 0.41% (Wallowa) to rates as high as 17.59% (Crook County). Oregon law allows districts to educate students up to the age of 21, but most districts do not make efforts past the age of 19. Some districts, such as Portland Public Schools, have dedicated staff and allocate resources to reengagement. This work helps many students, but actually lowers PPS' official graduation rate. The OYDC spoke about the need to remove this disincentive and create incentives for reengagement. A statewide policy could incentivize all districts to improve their reengagement efforts and, in turn, provide opportunity to our most vulnerable students. I expect we'll be hearing more about this important issue in future legislative sessions. 
I left Salem with a renewed sense of optimism. So many are working tirelessly to make improvements. I find myself frustrated at the pace of change, but today I feel that we are on a path toward sustained investment in the education of future generations. Many moving pieces need to fall into place over the next year. IP28 is a proposed ballot measure that is likely to appear on November's ballot (abetteroregon.org). If passed, it could bring revenue up enough to adequately fund education. Most importantly, we must continue to push our leaders to act and we must make the case to voters that an investment in education is not only the right thing to do, but essential for the future success of our state. No matter where you live, get involved and let your representatives know that you support investment in public education! 
GtCNN is a founding organization of the Oregon Youth Reengagement Coalition, which advocates for a statewide policy to reengage out-of-school youth. Richard Greensted is a North Portland resident, school volunteer, and member of GtCNN’s Oregon Ambassador Council.

Become a Dream-Maker for Youth: Leah's Story

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Hello, my name is Leah.
I was kicked out of three high schools in three years. Once I got clean and sober, off the streets, and committed to school—it appeared to be too late. I felt hopeless and depressed. Despite my best efforts to commit to living a better life and completing my education, I was still failing. I felt like maybe school wasn’t for me, and if so, I would never be able to achieve my dreams for the future. In my mind, if I couldn’t have a future career that I was passionate about, I wouldn’t ever be happy.
I discovered Gateway to College through a high school referral. At Gateway, I had the support of a community of adults and fellow students who believed in my aspirations as much as I did and who supported me, even when I made mistakes. They treated me like an adult with my own choices, and they provided me with bus tickets and financial assistance to help remove some of the barriers to success. Most importantly, I was surrounded by an educational culture and opportunities to get involved in productive and fun social activities to replace the party environment I was used to.
Since I graduated the program in 2004, I have completed two associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. I am currently working as a grant writer, editor, and communications coordinator for multiple nonprofit organizations in Portland, and I am starting a Native American jewelry business. My husband and I are proud homeowners and are expecting our first baby this July. You could say that all of my dreams have come true, and then some.
I hope that my story inspires you to become a dream-maker for youth at risk of dropping out of high school and not being able to achieve their fullest potential. It is through the support of community members like you, many of whom have stories like mine, that programs like Gateway to College exist. Your contribution will help us to serve more youth who need the intensive support that this program provides.
Please join me in the effort to make dreams come true.
Thank you,

Gateway Grads: Elena's Story

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Before I became a Gateway student I was on what some people call a “no plan” plan. Growing up, no one in my family had graduated high school, let alone stepped foot in college. My two siblings and I were the ones who had to teach my parents English and translate everything in this foreign country for them. 

By the time I was in high school my mind wasn’t anywhere near ready for me to even want to attend college. When you’re raised in the hood it’s easy to get side tracked with the daily struggles that come with your environment, and almost makes it feel as if college isn’t created for someone with your background. Every single person I knew—myself included—was feeling pressure to help provide for their families which created a worker mentality instead of student. 

What drew me to Gateway to College, at first, was the fact that I would be in high school and college at the same time. But what made me decide to stay was the clarity in their goals for the students, and the sense of family between the students and staff. I felt really motivated by the fact that I wouldn’t be alone through my journey in the program. Any questions I had could be answered by the counselors and learning coaches. There was a sense of security in knowing I was surrounded by people who were reaching for the same goal as me and who were there to support me every step of the way, which made the transition from high school to college really easy.
It felt reassuring to know that even after I graduated, I could always come back and find any type of help I needed as a full time college student. 

My first day at Gateway was the day after my 18th birthday, which gave me a small sense of adulthood and made me feel like for the first time ever I was finally able to control what I am doing with my life. Being exposed to college made me realize I had never wanted to attend college because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough and most likely couldn’t handle the work. As time went on, I learned that school isn’t something that’s made for people with a specific background, but for people who have a rigorous and positive mindset. Once I changed my mentality I realized how important education is, especially for those who come from the same background as me. It is necessary that we teach our youth the significance of education, but crucial that we make them aware of the fact that they are deserving of it, and can achieve anything they set their minds to. I know now that college isn’t a single destination, but rather a gateway to a lifetime of learning. I would have never seen school as a path to success if it wasn’t for Gateway to College. 


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