The Gateway to College National Network, a consortium of twenty-seven colleges in sixteen states, has announced grants from four foundations totaling $13 million to expand its services to young people who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind in credits and unlikely to graduate.
The grants, which 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 the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Kresge Foundation, will enable the network to expand its program into fifteen new community colleges. In addition, nine colleges will adapt the Gateway model and pilot a new program, Project DEgree, designed to serve 18- to 26-year-olds who need to improve their basic reading, writing, and math skills.
The Gateway to College model includes a combination of intensive academic and non-academic activities. By the time Gateway students receive their high school diploma, they have an average of forty-one college credits. In addition, 90 percent of Gateway graduates indicate they intend to continue their education in college. "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," said Mimi Corcoran, director of the Open Society Institute's Special Fund for Poverty Alleviation.
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 earned more than $34,500.
"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 and 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."