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Grant Helps Gateway Community and Technical College Students Stay in School

Funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation & United Way of Greater Cincinnati's COVID-19 Regional Response Fund.

Gateway Community and Technical College understands the importance of supporting students at any stage of their educational journey. Sometimes, that support comes in the form of removing non-academic barriers that provide the best chance for ensuring students' success.

Of the 4,000 students who enroll at Gateway, roughly 46 percent have income below the federal poverty level. Unplanned financial emergencies or food insecurities are often top barriers that hinder a student from completing their degree or technical training.

Thanks to a grant from Greater Cincinnati Foundation and United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Gateway is in a position of helping even more students impacted during the pandemic crisis. Featured below are two of Gateway students who sought help when they experienced a time of crisis.

Ann, a single mother of two children with special needs, originally started her career training at Gateway, earning her cosmetology license in 2003. In 2017, after some time in the workforce, Ann returned to Gateway and is now a sophomore studying interdisciplinary early childhood education.

"Although working as a cosmetologist for many years provided a stable income for my family, I always felt that something was missing," said Ann. "I have this deep passion for helping younger children develop their cognitive, social and emotional skills, and I knew I had to pursue this dream."

Prior to the shelter-in-place directive, Ann was a full-time student and worked as the lead teacher at a childcare center. When the center closed due to the pandemic, Ann was left without a paycheck and a means to support her family. She turned to Gateway and found help through the Student Emergency Fund.

"Both of my children have disabilities, and I have special dietary restrictions," said Ann. "Gateway processed my emergency application immediately and provided me with a gift card that allowed me to purchase specific food that I couldn't get from the food pantry. I couldn't be more grateful for this help."

Gateway's mission centers around three pillars or commitments to students and the community – enhance access to education and training; create engaging and relevant curriculum; and remove barriers to higher education.

Gateway student Chandra couldn't agree more.

After working for more than 15 years as a housekeeper in a medical facility, Chandra knew she needed to return to school and follow a different career path. Now into her 40s, Chandra enrolled in one of Gateway's social and behavioral science programs. This semester, she will graduate with both Associates of Science and Arts degrees. Her long-range plan is to continue her education and someday become a Behavioral Counselor working with juveniles.

"As a single mom of three children and a full-time student, I have been so grateful for the support services I've received at Gateway," said Chandra. "There were times when I was left with no other options than to turn to Gateway's food pantry so I could put food on the table for my children or the student emergency fund to help pay my electric bill. Without this help, I'm not sure if I could have remained in school."

As the COVID-19 lockdown continues, and our students remain in isolation, Gateway appreciates and values the support it has received from the COVID-19 Regional Response Fund. The infusion of money we received from this grant means we can help even more students with food or help with rent, utility bills, medication or other emergency expenses.

Gateway remains forever grateful at a time when community partnerships and collaborations come together to sustain each other for better tomorrows.

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