PDX Bridge



PDX Bridge propels Portland area foster, juvenile justice, and homeless youth onto a pathway from high school to and through college.

ATD’s Gateway to College is convening state agencies, public school districts, and alternative secondary education programs in this collaborative project to provide these students a comprehensive bridge from high school to first-year college completion. Oregon stands 47th in the nation in on-time high school graduation, and college-going rates of the state’s high school graduates are among the lowest in the nation. By focusing our efforts on Portland’s most vulnerable youth, we address a critical state issue: educational equity. This project serves traditionally underserved youth, such as students of color, those from low-income families, and English language learners, so all Portland youth can thrive.


Young people in state care are far less likely to enroll in college, and those who do are less likely to finish without individualized support.

These vulnerable young people need a network of caring adults, increased preparation in the college environment, and the know-how to take advantage of the many organizations in Portland designed to serve them.

Youth in state care are a community responsibility.

There are over 1500 children in foster care[i], 3,220 homeless youth[ii], and 1,348 adjudicated youth[iii] in Multnomah County. Homeless youth and those in the juvenile justice system are so underserved that there are few reliable statistics reporting their college-going rates. Nationally, only 10% of foster youth enroll in postsecondary education and only 3% ob­tain a postsecondary credential, compared to 40% of their peers. By focusing on young people in state care, we can make a real impact on Oregon’s high school graduation and college-going rates, and do so in a manner that addresses a current lack of equity.

How PDX Bridge Works

PDX Bridge connects students in state care with the wraparound support needed to lead a successful life. This collaborative effort provides students the highest quality support during either a College or Apprenticeship Pathway.

A Network of Caring Adults Support Bridge Youth Throughout PDX Bridge

Bridge Youth receive personalized support from coaches, their secondary counselors, teachers, and case managers. This same network of caring adults stays with students throughout their progress in PDX Bridge, helping them overcome challenges inside and outside the classroom.

Phase I: College Preparedness

The goal of Phase I is to introduce youth to the college environment, help them see themselves as college students, and enrich their social-emotional development to yield greater initiative and academic performance.


Through this stage, the Bridge coach conducts interviews, collaborates with secondary educators and counselors, and facilitates college visits for eligible youth.

Phase II: Dual Enrollment

Youth travel to the college campus twice a week for one quarter where they take three courses: A College Success course (taught by their coach), a College Writing course (taught by college faculty), and a Career Preparation course.


Youth receive both high school and college credit.


Youth apply for college or pre-apprenticeship program, financial aid, and scholarships.

Phase III: College or Apprenticeship Success

The PDX Bridge coach continues to support youth over the summer before and throughout their first year as college students or apprentices.


The coach’s primary objective is to acclimate and ameliorate the youths’ transition to the next supportive postsecondary program.


Completion of the first year of college is a predictor of future academic success.

[i] 2017 Child Welfare Data Book, Oregon Department of Human Services, 2018. https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/CHILDREN/CHILD-ABUSE/Documents/2017-Child-Welfare-Data-Book.pdf

[ii] 2017 Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness in Portland/Gresham/Multnomah County, Oregon, Portland State University, 2018. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/566631e8c21b864679fff4de/t/59ee2e7a5ffd207c6e7b41a0/1508781707710/PSU+2017+Point-In-Time_FINAL_%28Interactive%29+%281%29+%281%29.pdf

[iii] 2017 Data & Evaluation Report, Youth and Referrals, Multnomah County JJIS Steering Committee, 2018. https://www.oregon.gov/oya/reports/jjis/2017/multnomah_youthreferrals_2017.pdf