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Gateway to College National Network Receives $13 Million to Expand Programs - Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Four foundations support promising program to help students earn college degrees

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Phone: +1.206.706.3400

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Gateway to College National Network has received $13 million in grants from four leading foundations to expand a program that transforms high school dropouts into college-ready students.

Now in operation in 27 colleges in 16 states, these new investments will allow Gateway to College to expand into 15 new community colleges and to make the program a model for colleges serving students who need remedial academic help.

Without a program like Gateway to College, national statistics suggest only 19 percent of dropouts will get a diploma within eight years of their expected graduation date. Through dual credit, Gateway to College graduates earn not only a high school diploma, but also have an average of 41 college credits by the time they complete the program; 90 percent indicate that they will continue their educations in college. These are remarkable statistics when you consider that the average student entered Gateway to College with a high school GPA of 1.6.

The grants announced today include $7.28 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $3.8 million from the Foundation to Promote Open Society, a sister organization of the Open Society Institute, and nearly $1 million each from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Kresge Foundation.

Ensuring that more young people in America have the opportunity to complete college is crucial to our country’s economic growth and stability, as the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2016, half of all U.S. jobs will require college-level skills. Between 2005 and 2007, the average high school dropout earned $18,800 a year, while the average community college graduate brought home more than $34,500.

“As a nation, we can’t afford to write off any of our young people,” said Laurel Dukehart, Executive Director of Gateway to College National Network. “We have to do everything we can to reengage them and help them earn the high school and college credentials they’ll need to become successful adults.”

In addition, the Gateway to College model will be adapted to serve 18 to 26-year-olds who need to hone basic skills in reading, writing and math. The Gateway to College National Network will work with nine colleges to pilot the new program, called Project Degree.

Gateway to College’s success is due to a combination of intensive academic and non-academic supports, and can be an important model for community colleges nationwide which are struggling with sky-high remedial rates. Nationally, as many as two-thirds of all community college students enter with inadequate academic skills.

“Gateway to College offers at-risk youth an opportunity to thrive,” said Mimi Corcoran, director of the Open Society Institute’s Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation. “By providing a responsive education in a flexible environment, this program helps underserved students excel at school and beyond and aims to break the cycle of poverty.”

The Obama administration has called on states and education leaders to help the United States lead the world in percentage of college graduates by 2020. Until recently, education reform efforts and national policies have focused on increasing access to college, but have done little to help students graduate with credentials that employers value. Programs like Gateway to College are taking the important step of helping students succeed by developing individual college graduation plans, teaching time management and stress management skills along with note taking and communication skills.

“With our business leaders warning us that good-paying jobs require a college degree, we have to drastically improve the number of students completing college,” said Hilary Pennington, Director of Education, Postsecondary Success & Special Initiatives at the Gates Foundation. “Scholarships and tuition assistance aren’t enough. Schools must look to programs like Gateway to College to improve the services they offer and to give students the support they need to finish what they start.”   

Gateway to College National Network
Gateway to College National Network is a non-profit organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon, that offers ongoing training, technical assistance and professional development opportunities to network partners.  In some cases, the National Network provides start-up grants or local fundraising assistance to help community and technical colleges implement the Gateway to College program. Gateway to College serves youth, 16 to 21 years old, who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind in credits and unlikely to graduate. The dual credit program allows students to earn a high school diploma while progressing toward a college degree or certificate and it operates as a program within a community or technical college, or as a charter school located on the college campus.

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