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Gateway to College National Conference comes to Portland with important PCC roots

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PCC innovation will be apparent this coming Monday (July 23), as the Gateway to College National Network Peer Learning Conference kicks off.  The Gateway to College program started as a pilot launched by PCC in the late 1990’s and is now a national program and model for more than 33 community colleges around the country. Funded through partnerships with school districts, the goal of Gateway to College is to help at risk youth find a path toward a better life.  Starting Monday, July 23rd, the Gateway to College Peer Learning Conference is being held here in Portland at the DoubleTree.

Two Gateway to College students studying together

Gateway to College serves almost 350 high school students annually at PCC and has been a successful program for at risk youth in the Portland metro area and beyond.  Those students are able to find a way out of challenging life situations and take steps toward a better life.  The success of the program here at PCC a decade ago inspired the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2003 to fund the expansion of the program across the country helping thousands of young people achieve the dream of finishing high school while attending college.

“Gateway to College has created a pathway for at-risk students in the Portland area to complete high school and begin college. Although it started here in Portland the model now has made a national impact through the Gateway to College National Network. Together we are helping high school dropouts rewrite their stories and successfully engage in post-secondary education. The annual Gateway to College Peer Learning Conference is an opportunity for all of us to engage in this important work, to share ideas, successes and challenges, and we are excited that the national conference is being held here in Portland,” said Pamela Blumenthal, Director of Prep and Alternative Programs at PCC.

According Leah Gibson, a former student, and Gateway to College recipient and now the director of Grants and Communication at NAYA Family Center said, “the Gateway to College program helped me during a very critical period in my life. I was in the process of developing some major issues involving drug and alcohol abuse, the juvenile justice system, homelessness, and my overall mental and physical health. I knew the path that I was on was leading to destruction; I just didn’t know how to change it then. Gateway to College, along with other at-risk youth programs, gave me the tools I needed and a good push in the right direction. After graduating with my high school diploma, I went on to achieve two associate’s degrees, a BA in English, and a master’s degree in writing—my passion. Now, I work at the Native American Youth & Family Center as a communications coordinator. It’s my dream job, plus I get to work with at-risk youth and give back to my community.”

A side note: Linda Huddle passed away a few weeks ago. She was head of PCC Prep and Alternative programs for many years and helped launch the Gateway to College program here at PCC.  In her memory, the PCC Foundation has established the Linda Huddle Student Success Scholarship. Once endowed, this fund will provide an annual $1000 scholarship to a PCC student who has experienced barriers to accessing college.  Additionally, if you wish to donate to the fund, or share stories about Linda, please follow the link:

About Jim Beriault

A public relations and marketing professional with 23 years of experience in the Portland area. Beriault has spent most of his career working with clients and businesses in the healthcare, hospitality, education and entertainment industrie... more »

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x by Rose Case 5 years ago

As a Parent, this program was the lifeline my daughter needed to succeed. Public school was a nightmare and she dropped out. She wanted to continue her education but not “in someplace stupid.” We discovered Gateway to College and my daughter blossomed and love everyday in the program. She graduated with both her high school diploma and associate’s degree and transferred to Oregon State University where she is in the Fish and Wildlife program (a very science intensive program).
She has worked in Ecuador in a sea turtle restoration program and is working at Finley Wildlife Refuge while attending OSU. None of this would have been possible without the Gateway program.
Thank you!

x by Jenn 5 years ago

Great post, Rose! Thanks for sharing. We value our GtC grads and encourage them to stay in touch.


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