Bill and Melinda Gates Give Grant

Bill Gates is helping Riverside college students.

On Sept. 27, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National League of Cities announced that Riverside would be one of four cities chosen to receive a $3 million grant.

The grant will be used to help increase the graduation rate for college students. Most of the funds will be allocated to Riverside City College, over the next three years.

The purpose of this grant is to create continuity between high school and college, ensuring that there is an expectation of attending college after high school.

“We feel this kind of collaboration between high school and college, city and education officials is absolutely essential if we’re going to make progress,” Allan Golston, president of the U.S. program at the Gates Foundation, said in a press release on Sept. 27, 2010.

According to the press release, the low completion rates are due to many factors. Many students are not academically prepared for college coursework and take many remedial courses. Not only are the students at an academic disadvantage, but many students attending community colleges have families and full-time jobs.

The program intends to help students face these challenges by supplying more resources.

Gateway to College is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation charter school, which will start enrolling students at RCC this spring. Gateway to College is a program for students between the ages of 16 and 20 who have not completed high school or are close to dropping out.

This program is a scholarship program that helps students to attain their high school diploma while starting college courses.

Along with completing high school and starting college, the program works to help the students figure out what career path they would like to take.

Gateway to College will enroll 110 students every semester, starting in spring of 2011, and continuing over the next three years. To find more information visit the RCC website, or call (951) 222-8934.

California Baptist Univeristy student Tenesa Saffold, who attended RCC, said, “It’s a good start to improving RCC, but there is still more to be done”. According to Saffold the increasing tuition and budget cuts make it hard to complete one’s education at RCC.

The need for improvement within Riverside’s education system is clear when looking at the amount of students completing postsecondary schooling. The Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) found that only 17.5 percent of the high school class of 2002 earned a degree or certificate six years later.

According to the Press Enterprise, Riverside hopes to increase the number of high school graduates who obtain a college degree by 5 percent over the next three years, bringing the total number to 20 percent. The national average of adults over the age of 25 with a college degree is only 38 percent.

Community colleges are critical to the development of an improving economy because they offer degrees and training at an affordable rate.

President Obama spoke on community colleges, calling them the “unsung heroes of America’s education system,” in an article in The Huffington Post.

“We know that in today’s economic climate and labor market, a high school diploma is no longer enough,” Golston said. “We must not only ensure that young people have access to college; we must ensure that they go on to complete college and earn a degree or certificate with value in the workplace.”

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce predicted that the U.S. labor market will be short 3 million college-educated workers in the next eight years. The university also said that although enrollment rates are at a all time high, the amount of people who complete college successfully must increase significantly.