Gateway to College

In spite of steady progress in increasing high school graduation rates in the U.S., nearly 1 in 5 –or 750,000–students each year do not complete high school on time. For low-income students, outcomes are worse, with 1 in 4 students not graduating on time.

ATD’s Gateway to College Initiative supports communities in building a sustainable pathway for disconnected youth to a high school diploma and a meaningful college credential. Through Gateway to College, students who have dropped out of high school or are significantly off track complete their high school diploma in college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a postsecondary credential. Gateway students come together as a cohort on community college campuses, where they receive supports that allow them to overcome out of school challenges and focus on academic success.

Gateway to College expands ATD’s K-12/community college partnerships, dual enrollment programs, and innovations in customized delivery of holistic services for nontraditional student populations. Currently, the Gateway to College Initiative includes programs in 32 communities around the country.

Innovative approaches to serve the most marginalized youth

As a dual enrollment program serving some of the most vulnerable K-12 students, Gateway to College is a unique initiative. The core Gateway to College initiative has also afforded ATD a platform to test other innovative approaches to serving some of our nation’s most vulnerable young people.

The ATD Initiative has developed a program, PDX Bridge, a collaborative that provides foster, juvenile justice-involved, and homeless youth with a personalized, supported on-ramp to college and post-secondary training. Currently located on two community colleges in Oregon, PDX Bridge has the opportunity to be scaled in other communities.

Rural youth go to college at significantly lower rates than their urban and suburban peers, and economic opportunities are limited. The Gateway to College initiative has spent considerable time visiting rural communities in Oregon and Washington for listening sessions with students, educators, community leaders, and families about strengths and challenges for rural students. The initiative will release recommendations on how to provide dual enrollment opportunities to better serve these students and their communities.

Download ATD's Gateway to College information here. Learn more about Gateway to College here.

For more information, please email

View the March 13, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: A Gateway to College for High School Students






    Every adolescent faces challenges as they navigate their teenage years, but for some these challenges imperil their ability to complete their education. While these four students’ experiences are dramatically different, they have one thing in common: high school didn’t work for them, meaning that each faced long odds of ever attaining a diploma, much less a postsecondary credential with value in the workplace. And while each recognized the challenges they would face without finishing high school, they also didn’t see many options within their existing school settings.

    While “early college” initiatives and dual or concurrent enrollment programs have expanded dramatically to support low income and first-generation students, they focus primarily on young people who are enrolled and making progress in high school, not those who are struggling—or who have dropped out.

    Growing numbers of community colleges are recognizing the importance of serving disconnected youth.

    View the March 13, 2020 webinar on Equity in Design for HSS: A Gateway to College for High School Students



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