In 2000, Portland (OR) Community College 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 Portland Community College to begin replicating the Gateway to College model 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, governed by a 6-member Board of Directors. In 2009, Gateway to College 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. The impact of Gateway to College was further recognized in 2010, when the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education included Gateway to College as a core component of its federal High School Graduation Initiative application.


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. A 2012 study by Pacific Research & Evaluation showed that Gateway graduates continue in college at higher rates than other students.


By 2013, Gateway to College had grown to 43 programs in 23 states. Gateway to College’s 10th annual Peer Learning Conference was held in Boston in 2014, with nearly 200 local and national staff coming together to share best practices. By 2015, Gateway to College celebrated service to more than 20,000 students over the course of the organization’s history. In 2015, GtCNN convened student leaders in the second annual Northwest Student Leadership Conference at Portland Community College and explored network-wide collaboration in enrollment and recruitment strategies in the first Summer Enrollment Conference.


Laurel Dukehart, founding director, retired in 2015 and Emily Froimson became the organization’s new President. Gateway to College National Network continues a legacy of providing students a pathway to a meaningful post-secondary credential. Learn about our work.

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