News from Montgomery College

900 Hungerford Drive, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20850 

Date: November 17, 2003 (03-92)
Contacts: Steve Simon, 240-567-7952; Elizabeth Homan, 240-567-7970

Montgomery College Selected to Replicate Successful Portland, Oregon Program to Serve High School Drop-Outs or Those on the Verge
Grant-Supported Program Leads to High School Completion, College Degree

Montgomery College has been selected as one of the first two institutions in the nation to replicate the success of a groundbreaking Early College High School program pioneered by Portland Community College in Oregon.

Early College High Schools are designed for under-prepared students who would benefit from rigorous, personalized, early college-level work.  Students in these programs leave not only with a high school diploma but also an associate’s degree or two years of college credit.  Portland Community College’s model of the Early College High School initiative, entitled “Gateway to College,” serves young people between the ages of 16 and 20 who have either stopped attending high school or are on the verge of dropping out. 

Beginning in fall 2004, the Montgomery College “Gateway to College” program will serve approximately 60 students -- 20 at each of Montgomery College's three campuses, at Germantown, Rockville and Takoma Park.  By December 2006, 350 will be enrolled, at various stages in the pipeline.

“The Gateway to College program has a proven track record of turning students’ lives around and giving them another chance to complete their secondary education and even pursue higher education,” said Dr. Charlene Nunley, president of Montgomery College.  “At Montgomery College, we see this program as a wonderful opportunity to broaden our already strong partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools and help students who may otherwise have fallen through the cracks.” 

“Montgomery County has a real opportunity to demonstrate that students who are struggling to finish high school but who dream of making a better life for themselves can find academic opportunity through this new partnership with Montgomery College," said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. "Increasing the rigor of our school system means increasing opportunities for all students, including those most at risk of dropping out."

The new “Gateway to College” program represents the most recent of several joint initiatives undertaken by Montgomery College, in partnership with Montgomery County Public Schools, to ensure that students of all academic levels and backgrounds are better prepared for college and the workplace. The success of the MC-MCPS Partnership is one of the prime reasons the College was selected, along with Riverside Community College of California, to replicate the Portland model.

“Montgomery College offers a strong package of academics and student support, to give drop-outs a real second chance at success in education,” said Linda Huddle, director of alternative programs for Portland Community College.  "Their proposal was excellent and we look forward to working with the College to bring this program to Maryland.  Hundreds of Montgomery County youth will benefit from Gateway to College.

Replication of the Portland program, including start-up funding for Montgomery College and other participating institutions across the country, is being supported through a multi-million dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Having been selected to participate, Montgomery College is now eligible for a $350,000 grant to help launch the program.  Ongoing funding for the program, to support the cost of tuition, books and fees will be provided by MCPS on a per student allocation.

For more information about the Montgomery College “Gateway to College” program, contact Elena Saenz-Welch, director of academic initiatives at Montgomery College, at 240-567-5150.  To learn about “Gateway to College” at Portland Community College, contact Linda Huddle, director of alternative programs, at 503-788-6119.  For information about the Gateway to College national replication project, contact Laurel Dukehart, manager of Gateway to College replication, at 503-788-6226 (office) or 503-260-7844 (cell). 

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