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  • AT&T Aspire grant to support growth of PCC’s Gateway to College program

    PUEBLO – Giving high school dropouts a second chance is what the Gateway to College program is all about. On Tuesday, the Pueblo Community College Foundation was a recipient of an AT&T Aspire grant that will support PCC’s ability to make that program more available to students.

    Roberta Robinette, a Pueblo native who has served as AT&T's Colorado president since March, presented the college with a $20,000 Aspire grant in an announcement held in PCC’s Center for New Media studio. Accepting the grant was Martha Simmons, the PCC Foundation’s Executive Director.  

    The grant will enable PCC to:

    • Expand the Gateway to College program to its Fremont Campus this fall through a partnership with the RE-1 Fremont School District
    • Customize project-based learning opportunities to include experiential activities and day-long excursions
    • Engage students in project-based learning connected to their areas of study, culminating in related one-day excursions that will expose them to real-life settings.


    The Gateway to College program provides an opportunity for youths between the ages of 17 and 21 to get back on track after leaving the traditional high school educational path. It is anticipated that the Aspire grant will enable 150 students the chance to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and college credits toward an associate’s degree or certificate.  

    First established in January 2009, PCC’s program is among the top three ranked Gateway programs nationally. It has a persistence rate of 71% compared 53% nationally, and its cohort graduate rate is 62% compared to the average of 27%.  

    Since its inception at PCC, the program has served more than 437 students, with many of them going on to earn college certificates and degrees. Initially, students enter into a learning community of 20-25 students who take their first-term courses (reading, writing, math and an academic lab) together on campus. The students then transition to taking regular college courses, learning presentation skills along the way.  

    Participants must adhere to requirements but also have the freedom to learn at their own level. Most of them thrive by being in the college environment and with encouraging mentors who treat them as adults.   

    “The support from AT&T is greatly appreciated,” said PCC President Patty Erjavec. “Our Gateway students have so much potential, and this investment in our program will go a long way in providing additional learning opportunities to these young men and women as they pursue their high school diploma and the path toward a postsecondary degree.”  

    The grant was written through a PCC collaboration of Linda Tremblay, Grant Writer/Manager; Juanita Fuentes, Director of Community Education & Training & Pre-College Programs; and Jeanelle Soto-Quintana, who oversees the Gateway to College and other pre-college programs.

    The AT&T Aspire program invests millions in education, with the focus on helping more students graduate from high school and to be ready for college and careers. Since 2008, it has provided support to more than 1,000 national and community organizations. Robinette handles legislative work for AT&T as well as its community affairs activities among other duties.

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    Founded in 1933, Pueblo Community College is a premier teaching institution focused on providing academic and service excellence to help its students acquire the 21st Century skills needed to better their lives. An educational and technological leader, PCC fosters economic development and utilizes strong partnerships in the communities it serves through its Pueblo, Fremont and Southwest campuses.