Durham Tech gets grant to help dropouts

Posted October 21, 2009 10:06 a.m. EDT

— Durham Technical Community College has received a $300,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to start a program to help high school dropouts.

The Gateway to College program allows dropouts between the ages of 16 and 21 to complete their high school diploma requirements and earning college credits at the same time. The program was founded nine years ago in Portland, Ore., and has been replicated at 23 colleges in 14 states since then.

Fifty students will start the program at Durham Tech next August, and officials said they plan to accept 125 a year in subsequent years. Applicants will be selected through outreach and a two-day application and interview process.

“Locally, regionally and nationally, there is a growing recognition that community colleges have a significant role to play in dropout recovery efforts,” Durham Tech President Bill Ingram said in a statement. “The Gateway to College initiative will allow us to provide these students with the academic and social support mechanisms they need to be successful, both in completing high school and in pursuing higher education opportunities.”

Durham Public Schools will partner with Durham Tech in the program.

“We want to provide every opportunity for students to be able to complete their high school education,” Durham Superintendent Carl Harris said in a statement. “This program provides a wonderful avenue for students to do so while also getting a start on college."