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 gfee@gatewaytocollege.org, or visit www.gatewaytocollege.org.

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 Deborah.edward@gmail.com, or visit www.ninetyninegirlfriends.com.

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