Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) committed to establishing two new Gateway to College (GtC) sites to re-engage disconnected youth, build multiple pathways for students to complete high school, and simultaneously work toward post-secondary credentials including vocational certificates, associates degrees and four-year degrees. GtC programs operate at a college in partnership with local K-12 school districts to educate at-risk students who have not succeeded in traditional high school settings. Per this commitment, GtC is applying its proven model to scale the program to two additional sites to impact 300 additional students to complete high school and concurrently embark on post-secondary education over the 3 year commitment.
Three states are currently under consideration for two new site selections: Washington, California, and Illinois. At the completion of our vetting process GtCNN will identify two new communities to implement our model, in partnership with one community college and at least one K-12 school district in each community. The new GtCNN programs will begin with a three year start-up phase after an intensive vetting and selection process by GtCNN to determine program viability. The college's first hire is usually the GtC director. In the first year, GtCNN will conduct intensive training for GtC directors, resource specialists, and faculty on program design, including budgeting, policy making, recruiting students, instructional support, data collection and evaluation. Partner school districts will refer students to GtC. GtCNN will provide direct funding for college-based GtC staff until per-pupil funding from the K-12 school district is passed through.
After the initial three year start-up phase each site will become self-sustaining, while continuing to benefit from being supported by GtCNN with instructional coaching, peer learning among other network partners, and ongoing troubleshooting as challenges arise.
GtCNN will start this Commitment to Action in July 2013 with research into partner prospects and an intensive discovery process in each of the three targeted states. GtCNN seeks colleges and K-12 school districts that have an alignment of goals to engage disconnected youth and have demonstrated institutional commitment to establish a GtC program. Further, GtCNN will evaluate the state policy and funding context that will sustain each new program into the future. GtCNN will then determine the institutional and leadership capacity and priorities of prospective college and school district partners. At the end of this due diligence, GtCNN will have two partnerships between colleges and school districts to proceed with two new GtC programs.
Pending its success in fundraising, GtCNN will announce new programs in January 2014. GtCNN will grant funds to the colleges who allocate or hire staff and formalize agreements with the K-12 school district(s) who will begin to refer students along with community partners. The college partner, supported by GtCNN, will hire and train one Program Director and Resource Specialist. Additionally, existing faculty at the college will be trained on how to best support these students, and additional Resource Specialists will be added as the number of students increases, resulting in each Resource Specialist serving no more than 50 students to provide individualized support. In the fall of 2014, the first 25-50 students will begin their Foundation Term at each college. Their ages will range from 16 to 21 and K-12 per-pupil funds will follow each student. By the spring of 2016, some students will be receiving high school diplomas and an average of 30 credits toward a post-secondary credential. The actual course of study will vary depending on a student's number of high school credits and academic skills. Typically a student takes 1.5 to 2.5 years to complete GtC. About 75% of GtC graduates will continue in a post-secondary course of study. After three years, a GtC program may expect to serve about 150 students per year.
A staggering 1.3 million students drop out of high school every year, nearly 7.5% of all students drop out annually; for African Americans, the rate is over 8% and for Latinos, it is 15%. There are serious repercussions for these young people and for the communities in which they live. A high school dropout earns $260,000 less than a high school graduate over a lifetime. That person is 3.5 times more likely to become incarcerated, and much more likely to be chronically unemployed and less healthy.
Public obligations such as prison, welfare, and unemployment are utilized disproportionately by people who never completed high school. Dropouts from 2008 alone will cost the nation more than $319 billion in lost wages over the course of their lifetimes. Furthermore, to break the cycle of generational poverty, high school is not enough. Post-secondary credentials have become minimum requirements for family-wage and career-path jobs.
Gateway to College (GtC) revolutionizes education for at-risk teens and high school dropouts ages 16 to 21. The average GtC student is nearly 18 years old with a GPA of 1.5, and having completed only 40% of the credits needed to graduate. S/he joins a learning community of approximately 150 peers in a college setting to finish a high school diploma and concurrently earn college credits. S/he begins GtC with a Foundation Term and takes courses in study skills, career exploration, writing, and math. Then the student enters the general college population and maintains a strong connection to a designated Resource Specialist who provides guidance and encouragement. By graduation s/he has a high school diploma and nearly half of the credits for a two-year college credential. Nearly 75% of GtC graduates continue in post-secondary education, higher than the persistence rate of 68% in the general college population.
GtC programs require a close alignment of goals between local college systems and school districts. After a start-up period using philanthropic funds, programs are sustained using K-12 per pupil pass through funds.
As students begin their journey in Gateway to College, there are opportunities for individual donors or local businesses to help them get over unexpected obstacles that can still impede their success in school. Each Gateway to College site benefits from a pool of "emergency funds" to provide stability to students lives (food vouchers, transit fare, clothing, housing supports, childcare expenses) in the case that they are not always able to be covered by Gateway programs. GtCNN can serve as a fiscal supporter for companies or others who would like to specifically direct their funding toward these student supports.