Gateway to College National Network (“GtCNN”) is a Portland-based education nonprofit organization with partner programs in 23 states. The National Network replicates programs on college campuses around the country, serving dropped-out and off-track high school students as well as underprepared college students. Founded at Portland Community College, the Gateway to College program now operates at 43 colleges in partnership with more than 150 school districts.
Since its inception, GtCNN has enjoyed rapid growth and strong success replicating and scaling programs nationally. It has been primarily funded through national foundations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Kresge Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York. The organization is in the midst of a five-year business plan developed in partnership with the Bridgespan Group.
While continuous improvement has been a hallmark of operations since the beginning, GtCNN seeks to sharpen its focus on student success by launching new strategies for improved program performance, along with broader dissemination of its results and findings in order to move learning in the field. It is also engaged in new work to build the power of its national brand, and develop new markets for consulting, coaching, and technical assistance in education.
History and Evolution
Portland Community College created the Gateway to College program in 2000 to help reconnect high school dropouts with their education. Through the program, students complete their high school diploma requirements at community and technical colleges while simultaneously earning college credits toward an associate’s degree or certificate. Young people who had little chance of graduating from high school are achieving post-secondary success.
Gateway to College’s innovative approach captured the attention of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which initially funded the replication of Gateway to College as part of its Early College High School Initiative. Since 2003, Gateway to College has evolved from a single-site program into a national network in 43 cities.
Gateway to College National Network builds the capacity of colleges, school districts, cities, and states to revolutionize education for high school dropouts and underprepared college students so that all young people can achieve college credentials. Its strategies include:
- Creating and replicating innovative programs (Gateway to College and Project Degree);
- Building partnerships that connect K-12 and higher education institutions and communities;
- Influencing systems by creating change agents who are transforming instruction and student support practices from the inside out;
- Effecting policy and regulatory changes to ensure that Gateway to College and other alternative education models are available in every community that needs them;
- Conducting research and sharing what it knows about successfully serving high school dropouts and academically underprepared college students; and
- Providing customized consulting services to colleges, school districts, cities, and states.
GtCNN also provides training, technical assistance, and professional development opportunities to programs across the country. In some cases, GtCNN can offer start-up grants or local fundraising assistance to help community and technical colleges implement its programs.
GtCNN creates, replicates, and ensures continuous improvement of the following innovative programs:
Gateway to College helps high school dropouts (ages 16-21) and students on the verge of dropping out to earn a high school diploma while also earning college credits.
Project DEgree helps underprepared college students (ages 18-26) accelerate their progress through developmental education and on to transfer-level college courses.
Fee-for-service consulting is provided by GtCNN in the areas of consulting on aspects of its model, coaching, and technical assistance.
Gateway to College serves youth, 16 to 21 years old, who have dropped out of school or are significantly behind in credits and unlikely to graduate. The dual credit program allows students to earn a high school diploma while progressing toward a college degree or certificate.
Gateway to College operates as a program within a community or technical college, or as a charter school located on the college campus. After the initial start-up grant, local sites are self-sustaining through the use of K-12 dollars.
Gateway to College students learn how to succeed in an educational setting, under the guidance of a caring team of instructors and resource specialists with experience and interest in dropout youth. In their first term, students learn in a small community of peers. This experience builds their academic and personal skills, preparing them to transition to college courses with the general student population. In addition to reading, writing, and math, students take a college skills class to learn and practice the habits of mind needed to transform themselves into successful college students.
After completing the initial Foundation term, students transition to the comprehensive campus, taking classes with the general student population. Students focus their studies in a “pathway” or major that is aligned with high school completion requirements and college degree or certificate requirements. This allows students to maximize college credit acquisition toward their post-secondary goals.
The program achieves success by combining high academic expectations with one-on-one advising and support. Resource specialists act as coaches, mentors and advisors. Students work with their resource specialist on issues ranging from transportation and study habits to pathway selection and applying for scholarships. The wrap-around support of the resource specialist keeps students on the right track for success.
Because the program is offered on a college campus, students feel that they are treated as adults, and respond well to the academic and behavior expectations of the college environment. Nearly all classes are college classes, and the program is fully integrated into the college setting. Gateway to College classes are offered both during the day and in the evening, providing much needed flexibility for working students or students with children.
Project DEgree meets the overwhelming need for new solutions in developmental education. Studies of public two-year institutions estimate that 40% to 70% of entering students need at least one remedial course – and many get stuck at that level. Because of GtCNN’s track record serving high school dropouts who enter in developmental education and go on to achieve success in transfer-level courses, its funders supported a national pilot of Project DEgree to test its pedagogical and student support approaches with underprepared high school graduates. The pilot project was a success and largely wrapped up in 2011.
Fee-for-service consulting is offered by GtCNN to client organizations in key areas such partnership development, systems planning, holistic student support, learning communities, developmental education, and research and evaluation. GtCNN has worked with state-level departments of education, institutions of higher education, and a major foundation.
The senior management team of GtCNN consists of:
- Vice President of Finance and Administration
- Associate Vice President, Operations
- Associate Vice President, Policy and Partnership Development
- Chief of Staff
- Director, Development
- Director, Communications and Marketing
More information about Gateway to College National Network can be found at www.gatewaytocollege.org.
After ten years of very successful service, the founding President, Laurel Dukehart, is retiring and the Board of Directors of GtCNN is seeking a new President.
The President of Gateway to College National Network holds a position of strategic leadership and management. S/he will report to a high-level, sophisticated Board representing a spectrum of stakeholders and educational leaders throughout the nation. S/he will lead and manage a high-performing staff of professionals who are committed to and take pride in the mission and operations of GtCNN. The President is a national leader in the field of education, bringing a broad and deep understanding of the power of having earned a post-secondary degree.
The Board of Directors currently has eight members who bring the perspectives of foundation funders, education consultants, community college leadership, and private-sector business expertise including representatives from Intel, IBM, and Deloitte. All are dedicated to GtCNN’s mission and students.
The President has the ultimate responsibility for leading and managing all operations of this complex organization, as well as providing business leadership, technical support, and guidance to the Board of Directors. S/he will work in partnership with the Board on strategic planning, fundraising, external communications and policy matters.
The President will be the external spokesperson for GtCNN, responsible for raising the organization’s profile nationally in the education world. This will be accomplished by establishing partnerships with education and youth development leaders, advocating for favorable regulations and funding policies with key influencers and decision-makers, speaking at conferences, participating on panel discussions, speaking with the media, and demonstrating thought leadership in the sector of education devoted to addressing the needs of students who drop out of high school or are underprepared for post secondary educational work.
The President is responsible for the fiscal sustainability of GtCNN; as such, s/he will be responsible for, along with the efforts of the Director, Development, diversifying the revenue channels for the organization, and ensuring their robustness. This will include continuing to garner foundation support for GtCNN, but also expanding the individual major donor portfolio and the corporate partner support.
The President will be instrumental in building strategic relationships, based on credibility and trust, with school districts and community colleges, donors, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and community leaders. S/he will possess a track record of successful relationship building in previous roles. The President will be highly skilled in consensus building and in collaborating with other organizations and institutions to enhance and further GtCNN’s role in education nationally.
GtCNN’s headquarter organization does not deliver services directly to students, but guides and enables the member schools in doing so. Leading this process of enabling member schools requires different approaches from leading direct service delivery. This subtle but significant nuance demands a particular skills set.
The organization is seeking an executive who can increase and facilitate GtCNN’s cultural competency, as well as enhance its connection to and understanding of its network partners and students.
The successful candidate will work in the organization’s national office, which is located in Portland, Oregon. This position will require occasional to frequent travel throughout the United States.
Strategic Leadership and Management
- Provides executive management of the organization reflecting a thorough understanding of the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors;
- Provides leadership in defining and adhering to organizational mission and vision;
- Manages staff and organizational operational activities;
- Leads decision-making process for partnerships and collaborations between GtCNN and the philanthropic community, the national network and individual donors; and
- Works autonomously in a dynamic, changing environment while keeping the Board of Directors and key stakeholders apprised of issues, problems, opportunities, and accomplishments, as necessary.
- Establishes, cultivates and stewards relationships with key foundation funders to ensure GtCNN meets critical annual revenue targets;
- Identifies new and expanded channels of revenue for GtCNN and ensures the creation and execution of development plans for each channel;
- Drives the institutional support for GtCNN and makes the “leadership ask” when necessary and appropriate; and
- Works with Director, Development to develop and execute annual fundraising plan, leveraging relationships and networks of the Board members and stakeholders.
Partnership with Board of Directors
- Supports the Board’s leadership and effectiveness;
- Brings recommendations on issues or changes to programs, services, or operations, along with options arrays, to the Board for their consideration and decision making;
- Builds strong relationships with the Board of Directors and its Committees based on partnership, mutual trust, respect, and open communication;
- Develops and presents the annual business and financial plans for Board approval;
- Ensures the Board is kept informed of the status of GtCNN’s programs and finances;
- Ensures the Board has complete and timely information to support its decision making;
- Works closely with the Board chair to develop agendas for Board meetings that reflect the interests of the Board members and that provide learning about the program areas and external environment that impact GtCNN’s program work.
- Supports Board member education; and
- Strategically supports Board recruitment.
External Communications and Relationships
- Builds and maintains effective working relationships with the national network, foundations, leaders in education, and communities nationally, as appropriate;
- Navigates the political dynamics of stakeholders with conflicting perspectives and opinions; and
- Oversees all public relations activities; acts as primary spokesperson and ambassador for GtCNN and provide leadership in fundraising campaigns to partners, stakeholders, and donors, as well as media relations.
Organizational Effectiveness, Development and Learning
- Serves as the organization’s top executive manager, ensuring all the programmatic and operational components are managed day-to-day by staff;
- Ensures continuous learning and growth opportunities for staff;
- Mentors strong, capable staff;
- Communicates organizational values to staff and works with staff to ensure that values are understood and operationalized at GtCNN; and
- Conducts performance reviews of senior management team members, as appropriate; provides timely, clear and direct feedback about performance to create an environment for ongoing professional growth and development.
Program Strategy Development, Management, and Evaluation
- Ensures GtCNN’s programs are ambitious, responsive to student and partner institutions’ needs, have concrete and measurable objectives, and support GtCNN’s mission and values;
- Stimulates critical thinking about GtCNN’s program goals to support and encourage programmatic innovation;
- Ensures that programs are reviewed regularly by staff and, as appropriate, the Board; and
- Ensures the program work of GtCNN is documented and evaluated, and that key findings are disseminated to impact future work by staff.
Operations and Finance
- Oversees the Vice President of Finance and Administration who is responsible for the smooth and efficient operation of GtCNN to support the organization’s mission and goals, including information technology and office systems, human resources, information retention policies, knowledge management, and facilities;
- Works with the Vice President of Finance and Administration and senior management team to prepare annual operating budgets as well as forecasts for the organization;
- Oversees GtCNN’s financial management, including analyzing the current revenue model, diversifying revenue streams, overseeing the annual audit, grants and operation budgets, accounting, internal controls, IRS compliance, and salary and benefits administration; and
- Ensures that operational and financial performance indicators are in place and accurate, are reviewed regularly by senior staff and Board members, and are used for continuous improvement.
Experience: Seasoned executive with demonstrated track record of visionary leadership and executive management of complex organizations. A successful track record of fundraising, effective programs, external communications, effective management of the Board/executive dynamic, and demonstrated success requiring softer skills is required. The President will ideally possess knowledge of educational trends and be conversant and at ease in the higher education community.
Education: A Master’s degree in Education Leadership, Public Administration, Business Management, or a related field is required.
Equivalency: An equivalent combination of education, experience, and training that would provide the knowledge, skills and abilities required for the successful performance of the essential job duties.
The successful professional will have or be:
- Passionate about Gateway to College National Network’s vision and mission
- Confident presence — comfortable with and energized by being “the face” of the organization;
- Secure leader willing to listen, ask questions, and be comfortable not having all the answers;
- Demonstrated track record of inspiring, mentoring, developing and retaining staff;
- Ability to collaborate and develop consensus among multiple stakeholders, including staff, Board, funders and member schools
- Energetic professional style with a collaborative, relationship-building orientation
- Demonstrated innovative thinking and action
- Proven ability to problem solve
- Well-developed diplomacy skills
- Demonstrated good judgment
- Excellent oral and written communication skills;
- Excellent active, respectful listening skills;
- Create a high energy, high achievement work environment that raises team standards and performance
- Demonstrated flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances
- Resilient to organizational setbacks
- Ability to work in a diverse, fast-paced environment.
A competitive nonprofit compensation package, including comprehensive benefits, will be offered.