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PCC's Gateway to College rewarded with additional $3 million from Gates Foundation

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Community College’s nationally-recognized Gateway to College program has been awarded a new five-year, $3 million award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This award follows two earlier grants by the foundation, bringing the total amount received for this project to more than $13 million.

The new grant provides PCC with the opportunity to fund planning and startup at three more colleges, bringing the total to 20 sites, plus PCC. It will also fund model development within the existing network. The grant will allow Gateway to College to continue to improve student outcomes by replicating two new model elements. The program helps dropouts complete their high school diplomas by taking college courses for dual credit.

“There is a strong demand for Gateway to College across the country, because every city has a dropout problem,” said Laurel Dukehart, director of the Gateway to College National Network. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring Gateway to College to more young people, as we help broker partnerships between community colleges and school districts looking for alternatives for struggling students.”

The money will help replicate two key innovations developed at PCC – Academic Discipline Preparation (ADP) and Gateway Preparation. ADP is a series of one-credit companion college courses in economics, business, history, biology, and political science. Gateway Preparation is an additional term of study that builds academic skills and habits to prepare students to enter the Gateway to College Foundation Term.

In 2003, PCC was chosen as a national intermediary in the Early College High School Initiative (ECHSI). This initiative provides traditionally underserved students with rigorous, college-level curriculum and the opportunity to earn significant college credit. Through this initiative, PCC is replicating the Gateway to College program. This innovative model, developed at PCC and operated since 2000, is the only ECHSI program serving dropouts.

“At PCC, graduates have earned an average of 73 college credits by the time they complete their high school diploma requirements—about two-thirds of the way to an associate’s degree,” added Dukehart.

The first two replication sites opened in 2004, and the national network is growing fast. Gateway to College is currently available at nine locations plus PCC, and will be operating at 12 colleges in 10 states by the fall of 2007.

Clackamas Community College in Oregon initiated the model in 2005. Between Clackamas and PCC, students in 16 local school districts in the Portland metropolitan area are being served through Gateway to College. Programs are funded in partnership with local school districts. Nationally, 49 school districts are participating via the twelve replication sites and PCC.

PCC selects sites to replicate the model and provides curriculum, training, and ongoing support. Nationally, more than 1,500 students have enrolled since replication began. By 2011, the end of the grant period, nearly 13,000 students will have enrolled in Gateway to College.

Current replication sites include Clackamas Community College (Oregon City, Ore.); College of The Albemarle (Elizabeth City, N.C.); Community College of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pa.); Georgia Perimeter College (Decatur, Ga.); Massasoit Community College (Brockton, Mass.); Monroe Community College (Rochester, N.Y.); Montgomery College (Rockville, Md.); Mt. Wachusett Community College (Gardner, Mass.); Palo Alto College (San Antonio, Texas); Riverside Community College (Riverside, Calif.); San Antonio College (San Antonio, Texas); and Tri-County Technical College (Pendleton, S.C.).

The Community College of Philadelphia is in its first full year of implementation of the Gateway to College model. This fall, there were 40 students in the program and college officials plan to serve 60 more by the spring. For a city like Philadelphia, the Gateway to College design has been a needed tool.

“It is important to the city because we have an enormous problem with drop outs,” said Sam Hirsch, Vice President for Student Affairs for the Community College of Philadelphia. “Plus, it fits the mission of the college. There has been a lot of energy and enthusiasm by the current students, which has continued through to their studies.

“This is an incredible opportunity for this population to have this second chance to re-enter education to earn their high school diploma while working toward a college degree,” Hirsch added.

At Georgia Perimeter College, its Gateway to College Academy (which opened in August of 2005 and will have its first graduation in spring of 2007) has touched the lives of approximately 250 young people so far, and has counseled many more students into other more appropriate programs, says Margaret Venable, Assistant Vice President, Educational Outreach/Educational Affairs for the college. The site is a charter school that serves one school district (DeKalb County Schools), but has been overwhelmed by the response of the community.

“Parents, neighbors and students began calling to find out about the program even before the first staff were hired and before we had created the application form,” Venable said. “It has been very heart-warming to me and the Gateway to College Academy staff to see how many of the students have blossomed so quickly upon entering the school. The students are bright, capable young people who are looking for a second chance to prove to themselves, their families and their friends that they are someone special, capable of academic and social successes in school.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, are funding the Early College High School Initiative. Early college high schools represent a new way of organizing high schools and the first two years of college. By 2008, the partner organizations will create or redesign more than 170 pioneering small high schools. For more information, please visit its Web site: www.earlycolleges.org.

For more information on Gateway to College and the national replication, please visit www.gatewaytocollege.org.

Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving approximately 88,200 full- and part-time students. For more PCC news, please visit us on the Web at www.pcc.edu/news. PCC has three comprehensive campuses, five workforce training and education centers, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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