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STLCC Program Receives National Recognition

James Gillespie, left, and students who completed STLCC's Gateway to College program.

St. Louis Community College’s Gateway to College program has received a national award for performance excellence. 

GTC earned a Program Excellence Award from Achieving the Dream in recognition of exceeding all four benchmarks used to assess the performance of GTC programs nationwide. The benchmarks are first-term success (first-term high school grade-point average), one-year persistence rate, two-year persistence rate and three-year graduation rate. 

Through GTC, high school students have the opportunity to complete their high school diplomas in college-based programs while simultaneously earning credits toward a postsecondary credential. 

St. Louis Community College has hosted a GTC program at the Florissant Valley campus since 2008. The program enrolled 83 students during the academic year covering the award, 2017-18. Of that number, six graduated high school early the previous year. Students participating in GTC attended high schools in the Normandy, Jennings, Hazelwood, Ritenour, Ferguson-Florissant districts as well as North Technical High School. 

“Gateway to College programs provide a critical second chance for vulnerable high school students and a powerful testament to the importance of wraparound supports and creating a sense of belonging in college,” said Emily Froimson, executive vice president of Achieving the Dream. “Nearly 75 percent of program graduates nationwide continue their postsecondary education.” 

STLCC’s Gateway students attained a first-term GPA of 3.06, besting the benchmark of 2.5. Their one-year persistence rate was 81.9%, above the benchmark of 71.6%. Their two-year persistence rate was 65.6%, above the benchmark of 61%. Their three-year graduation rate was 59.4%, topping the 50% benchmark. Additionally, the students earned 23 college credits at graduation. 

This marks the second time STLCC has received the award, Gateway’s highest national honor, in recognition of significant program improvements over the past few years initiated by James Gillespie, GTC’s director. STLCC’s program also earned the award in 2017. 

“This recognition illuminates the significance of the Gateway to College program,” Gillespie said. “GTC continues to live by the STLCC mission of expanding minds and changing lives. I truly appreciate the hard work and dedication from students, GTC staff, the partnering school districts, and STLCC staff and faculty.” 


Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of 277 community colleges committed to helping their students, particularly low-income students and students of color, achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity. ATD, along with 75 experienced coaches and advisors, works closely with network colleges in 44 states and the District of Columbia, including 35 Gateway to College programs in 18 states, to reach more than 4 million community college students.

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