SRJC starts Gateway to College
Program to help high school dropouts find path to diploma
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A new program will be launched this fall at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Petaluma Campus for youth who have dropped out of high school or are behind in credits towards high school graduation.

Gateway to College is a national program currently offered at 43 locations across the country. 

There are seven Gateway to College programs in California, and Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) is one of three colleges in the state starting a new program for the 2013-14 academic year.

SRJC will become partners with Petaluma City Schools, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District and the Sonoma County Office of Education to identify youth who would benefit from this unique program.

Gateway to College participants will enroll in SRJC courses to complete their high school diploma, and eventually earn college credits toward a degree, certificate or transfer pathway. One of the program’s benefits is students will be able to enroll at SRJC without paying tuition while working towards a high school diploma.

“Our top priority is to give students a second chance to get a high school diploma and to get college credit at the same time,” said Lauralyn Larsen, the SRJC Petaluma campus Dean of Student Services.

The 2013-14 SRJC program, which will have 48 students in two cohorts, will begin in August, and the college is accepting applications now from interested students.

Participants will attend SRJC’s Petaluma campus full time and enroll in intensive reading, writing, and math classes. They will also be required to take courses in college success, counseling and physical education. 

There will be strong “wrap-around” support for students, with staff hired specifically to assist them with academic planning, financial aid, scholarships, disability services, psychological services, and referrals to community services, such as off-campus housing and transportation.

“We are constantly on the lookout for our students who are not able to graduate from high school, and this will give us another opportunity to help them. We won’t stop looking until everyone gets a high school diploma,” said Petaluma City Schools Director of Student Services Dave Rose.

“Our district is excited to partner with SRJC and offer this unique model to our school community,” said Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Elizabeth Kaufman. “We believe all students are entitled to a successful education, and Gateway to College will provide another pathway for students to prepare themselves for life beyond high school.”

SRJC received a $325,000 contract from Gateway to College National Network (GtCNN) for a three-year period to launch the program, which will become self-sustaining by receiving Average Daily Attendance (ADA) revenue paid by the state to the college and through an agreement with its K-12 partners. 

GtCNN receives support for this replication effort, in part from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund.

SRJC recently hired Vanessa Luna Shannon to be director of its Gateway to College program. Shannon is an experienced K-12 and community college educator and counselor. She is also a graduate of SRJC.

To be eligible for Gateway to College, youth must be between 16 and 20-years-old at the time of application, behind in high school credits for their grade level, and have a reading level of at least eighth grade.

SRJC will hold informational meetings to introduce the program to potential applicants. The meetings will be held on the following Tuesdays: April 16, 6 p.m.; April 23, 6 p.m.; and May 7,  6 p.m.

All sessions will be held at the Petaluma campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway, Call Building, Room 656. 

Representatives of SRJC and the Petaluma and Cotati-Rohnert Park districts will be present to explain the program and answer questions. 

For further information and to RSVP, call 778-3631 or e-mail

Post Your Comments:
April 12, 2013
As a residnet of Petaluma, a parent of teenagers, and an employee of SRJC, I am very excited about this program! It is an example of the fabulous things that can come out of collaboration between local educational entities to serve the best interests of students, in this case high school dropouts. It is a win-win-win situation for high schools, SRJC, and the students who will benefit from this program. Yay!
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