In 2000, Portland Community College (PCC) developed an innovative suite of programs featuring intensive support for 16 to 21 year olds who have dropped out of high school or are not on track to graduate.
In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding for PCC to replicate one of these programs – Gateway to College – in other cities. In 2004, Riverside (CA) Community College became the first Gateway to College partner program. By 2008, there were 17 sites in 13 states, working with 81 school district partners.
Gateway to College National Network became a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization in 2008, and in 2009 GtCNN was awarded $13.1 million by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, The Kresge Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York to have a broader impact on a national scale.
In 2011, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation and the federal Social Innovation Fund awarded Gateway to College $3.5 million to increase evidence of effectiveness and build organizational capacity to serve more young people. In the same year, CEOs for Cities highlighted Gateway to College in its recommendations to enhance opportunities in America’s cities, and a 2012 study by Pacific Research & Evaluation showed that Gateway graduates continue in college at higher rates than other students. By the time Gateway to College’s 10th annual Peer Learning Conference was held in Boston in 2014, nearly 200 local and national staff representing 43 programs in 23 states came together to share best practices.
GtCNN continues to support its core Gateway to College model while developing new innovations to support vulnerable youth. In 2016, GtCNN piloted Gateway to Career in seven Gateway to College programs nationally in an effort to more intentionally connect students to meaningful career pathways. PDX Bridge was launched at Portland Community College in 2017, and expanded to Mt. Hood Community College in 2018. PDX Bridge is a collaborative that provides Portland-area foster, juvenile justice-involved, and homeless youth with a personalized, supported on-ramp to college and postsecondary training.