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Organizations Announce Merger to Reach More Students

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By Sammy G. Allen
Diverse Education

Two organizations working to serve underrepresented students have merged as of April 1.

Gateway College National Network is now an initiative of Achieving the Dream (ATD), working together to link the success networks for high school and college students to improve college readiness, expand personalized student supports, and broaden services to help colleges graduate more students from vulnerable populations.

The merger is expected to allow ATD to further expand its focus on equity and leverage tools, coaching, expertise and relationships to strengthen its support for its network of colleges. ATD will help colleges expand their K-12/community college partnerships, dual enrollment programs and innovations in customized delivery of holistic services for nontraditional student populations.

ATD will now expand the reach of the Gateway to College initiative, which partners with over 30 colleges and nearly 200 school districts, by connecting its work with the more than 220 colleges in the ATD network. Gateway to College currently serves 24 colleges outside of ATD and 12 institutions in the ATD Network.

“The Gateway to College initiative enables us to help colleges create a robust pipeline from K-12 through community college and into a four-year degree program that students successfully complete,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, ATD President and CEO. “This work will especially ease the transition for historically disadvantaged groups, leading to more equitable outcomes in the long run. By joining our organizations, we have the opportunity to advance new approaches and build innovative personalized supports to help a larger portion of our population to achieve their educational goals and dreams.”

Emily Froimson, formerly Gateway to College’s president is now the executive vice president of ATD. She said both organizations have many of the same funders, similar values, missions, and equity as a guiding focus. Both organizations coach community colleges on strategies to address the needs of underserved students. Two-thirds of those are students of color, two-thirds are also low income and three-fourths are first-generation college students, according to information Gateway for College gathered.

“Nearly a third of high school students take courses for college credit. However, low-income students and students of color, while more likely to benefit from these experiences, are less likely to participate in dual-enrollment courses and benefit form holistic supports they need to be successful,” she said. “In merging with Achieving the Dream, we will ensure that more young people are prepared to be successful at the community college level and beyond.”

The merger will help accelerate the replication of Gateway to College programs. Achieving the Dream will also continue Gateway to College’s work to develop new programs for rural and foster youth, homeless and adjudicated youth.

Froimson said both organizations have many of the same funders, similar values, missions, and equity as a guiding focus. Both organizations coach community colleges on strategies to address the needs of underserved students.

“Our vision is to take these programs from incubation to scale to serve tens of thousands of more students and continue to transform the work and success metrics of ATD from not just whole college transformation but whole community transformation,” said Stout, who, as president of Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania, had a Gateway to College program on her campus that partnered with 22 school districts in the county.

As part of the arrangement, the Gateway to College office in Portland, Oregon, will become the west coast office of Achieving the Dream. All staff are being integrated into ATD operations.

Gateway to College partners with over 30 colleges and nearly 200 school districts, while ATD serves more than 220 community colleges. Gateway to College currently serves 24 colleges outside of ATD and 12 institutions in the ATD network.

Stout’s vision is to take these programs from incubation to scale and continue to transform the work and success metrics of ATD from not just whole college transformation, but whole community transformation, “bringing students in who have not had a good experience in schools. We want to meet students where they are through student-centered teaching at a student-centered institution.”

Achieving the Dream was conceived as a national initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations that are leaders in the higher education field: American Association of Community Colleges (AACC); Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin (CCLP); Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University (CCRC); Jobs for the Future; MDC; MDRC; and Public Agenda.

Gateway for College was founded in 2000, helping off-track and out of school students find a path to a high school diploma and college credentials.