Mt. Hood Community College recently received a $75,000 grant through the Gateway to College National Network to implement PDX Bridge – a Portland area program focused on connecting East County juvenile justice, foster, and homeless youth to post-secondary
educational opportunities. The two-year grant was funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust.
PDX Bridge provides students from vulnerable populations with a “bridge” from high school through the completion of their first year of college. Through the program, high school students can access peer mentorship and college readiness/dual-enrollment
classes. Once they finish high school, they will receive college success coaching at MHCC. Additionally, Worksystems’ SummerWorks initiative will offer summer internship opportunities to these students.
“With this grant, we will be able to serve some of the area’s most vulnerable and under-served youth populations,” said Kelley Keith, MHCC’s Dean of Adult Basic Skills and the grant manager. “This is a population very near and dear to my heart, ever
since working with adjudicated and homeless youth in Oakland, California, more than a decade ago.”
The PDX Bridge program was piloted at Portland Community College in 2017. An initial cohort of 25 students will begin at MHCC by taking classes in Writing and Human Development.
“The students’ initial college start will be combined with intensive and comprehensive wraparound supports, led by a newly hired Student Success Coach,” said Keith. “And we’re already working with local case managers, high school counselors, and other
partners to recruit youth for this opportunity.”
As part of the grant program, MHCC hired a student success coach who will guide, advise and connect the students to resources, and support and encourage them through their first year of college and beyond.
According to Children First of Oregon’s 2015 report, there are 3,066 children in foster care, 5,798 homeless children, and 3,366 adjudicated youth in the Portland area. Nationally, only 10 percent of foster youth enroll in post-secondary education
and only 3 percent obtain a post-secondary credential, compared to 40 percent of their peers.
You can learn more about the PDX Bridge program at GatewaytoCollege.org/PDX-Bridge.html