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.
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.
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