Mycollege Foundation Partners with Mount St. Mary’s College to Launch Portmont College


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Non-profit Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Helps Students With “The Will But Not The Way” Earn Capabilities-Based, Affordable Associates Degrees

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Mycollege Foundation Partners with Mount St. Mary’s College to Launch Portmont College

  1. 1. Mycollege Foundation Partners with Mount St. Mary’s College to Launch Portmont College Non-profit Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Helps Students With “The Will But Not The Way” Earn Capabilities-Based, Affordable Associates DegreesDenver, CO, October 24, 2012 - Today, MyCollege Foundation and Mount St. Mary’s College, LosAngeles, announced the launch of Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s, to offer high-quality,transfer-level Associate degrees to high-potential students who have “the will but not the way”to college success. With all-in costs of $5,240 per student per year—approximately the amount ofa Federal Pell Grant, Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s will provide access to qualitypersonalized learning solutions and comprehensive wrap-around support services that will ensurehigh persistence and graduation levels. The MyCollege Foundation concept was developed duringthe founder’s time as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whichhas also provided early grant support. Portmont College has been developed in close partnershipwith Mount St. Mary’s College, which is ranked among the top 30 regional universities in the Westby US News & World Report. Mount St. Mary’s College is a regionally accredited institution andPortmont students will be eligible to receive Title IV funds while attending the college.“Portmont is designed to be the springboard for those young adults who have the grit anddetermination to succeed, but who face burdens and barriers, financial or otherwise, that couldlimit that success,” said Srikant Vasan, Founder and President of Portmont College at Mount St.Mary’s. “In partnership with Mount St. Mary’s College, we have created top quality, yet affordable,Associate’s degree programs that combine rigorous academics with critical supports and resourcesto ensure students can not only access, but complete the high-quality education necessary tobuild careers and create futures for themselves.”“Portmont offers a degree attainment option for underserved students through a scalable andcost-effective model,” said Josh Jarrett, Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success, Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation. “We are pleased to see this idea, conceived while Srikant was anEntrepreneur-in-Residence at the foundation, come to life. This model is designed to deliver arigorous academic program for students who have more motivation than means and connect themto opportunities they wouldnt otherwise have.”“Mount St. Mary’s has had a longstanding commitment to educating the underserved. This new,exciting partnership brings this commitment and our top-quality curriculum together withPortmont’s innovations in pedagogy, technology, and student supports to offer a high quality,personalized educational experience to thousands of new students. The launch of PortmontCollege at Mount St. Mary’s will help address the national challenge of broadening access to highquality education at lower costs,” said Dr. Ann McElaney-Johnson, President of Mount St. Mary’sCollege.Building Capabilities Needed For Long-Term SuccessThe college anticipates launching four blended Associate degree programs that combine the bestof personalized online education with in-person student cohorts, supports, and social learningopportunities: Business Administration, Computer Science, Liberal Arts, and Pre-Health Science.These programs have been uniquely developed with Portmont’s target student population in mind.
  2. 2. From its personalized learning environment that tracks mastery of course material to prescriptivecourse sequencing and social and problem-based learning approaches, the Portmontexperience has been carefully designed to ensure its students’ success and prepare its graduatesto transfer to an elite four-year degree institution or launch their career.The hallmark of the Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s curriculum is its focus on corecapabilities that students will need for long-term career success. This includes curriculumdesigned to advance skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communications, informationliteracy, teamwork, performance character, and learning to learn. Unlike other institutions, thesecore capabilities are not only taught, but developed and measured at a student level multipletimes within each course. Students, their potential employers, and the Portmont community ofsupport will consistently have visibility into a student’s progress along these core capabilities.“Portmont students will graduate with not just a high quality, respected degree, but also theability to think clearly, work well in teams, and communicate effectively,” said Srikant Vasan.“They will have what they need to succeed in the workforce and in their communities.”Creating Meaningful ConnectionsPortmont students will be part of a connected, supportive community of faculty, coaches, andpeers. It starts with the Portmont “Success Launch Process,” which goes beyond the cognitivetopics typically addressed by college success courses and utilizes a series of four courses todevelop intrapersonal and interpersonal skills correlated to work and life success. Before beingaccepted to Portmont, prospective students attend the “Launch Pad” – a free three-week onlinecourse that provides an opportunity for the college to observe students’ online course takingbehavior first-hand, as student behavior is one of the primary criteria for gaining admission intothe full Portmont program. If successful, students will advance to “Ignition” – an intensive in-person, one-week experiential learning program to absorb the college culture, and bond withtheir Success Coach and the 15 cohort peers who will form their support community. Thesestudent cohorts start coursework together and provide mutual help and support through socialmedia tools. During the students’ first two academic terms they will continue the sequence in the“Lift Off” and “Soar” courses to reinforce the concepts learned in prior courses and provideongoing support. Throughout their Portmont experience, students will have a personal supportnetwork of success coaches and faculty who will continually tailor proactive interventions usingstudent-specific academic and behavioral data.Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s will work with community partners, such as charter schools,public schools, and community organizations to identify students with grit and determination butalso the burdens and barriers to success. The admissions team will evaluate candidates basedprimarily on their grit, motivation, and resilience. Given the community-centricity and the need forholistic, blended student supports, Portmont will launch and grow city-by-city starting in Denver,Colorado, and followed next by San Francisco, California. Once the model is working well inDenver and San Francisco, Portmont plans to admit students from additional cities nationwide.Cultivating a Student-Centric TeamIn addition to the administrative and faculty leadership at Mount St. Mary’s College, which hasbeen intimately involved in the development and approval of its curriculum, Portmont College atMount St. Mary’s assembled a team of seasoned professionals, including:* Srikant Vasan, President: Former Senior program officer at Gates Foundation, co-founder & CEOof StorePerform and KBkids, Founding team member and director of business development ofMediaOne, Consultant at McKinsey & Co.* Dr. Vernon Smith, Provost: Former Vice President of Academic Affairs at Rio Salado College, a
  3. 3. nationally recognized online college with tens of thousands of online students. Serves on theboard of directors of EDUCAUSE.* Dr. Michael Cottam, Dean of Instruction: Former Associate Dean of Instruction at Rio SaladoCollege and a certified Quality Matters Reviewer.* Lucas Budman, Chief Technology Officer: Former Vice President and Head of Technology forCognilytics, Director of Research for RedPrairie and Store Perform Technologies and SeniorArchitect for Xcel Energy Markets.* Ann Marie O’Connor, Vice President of Product Management: Former Director of Retail Strategyat RedPrairie and product management for StorePerform.* Dr. Jim Knickerbocker, Director of Student Engagement: Former Managing Director of Academyfor College Excellence, Organizational development consultant at Hewlett-Packard.* Shannon Neumann, Director of Enrollment Management: Former Director of EnrollmentManagement for Ivy Bridge College of Tiffin University.Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s is now accepting student applications, and it will host itsfirst three-week Success Launch Pad Course in December with the first academic semesterbeginning on March 4, 2013. Portmont will offer rolling admission there after.About Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’sPortmont College at Mount St. Mary’s is a non-profit joint venture between Mount St. Mary’sCollege and MyCollege Foundation. Through Mount St. Mary’s College, a national, non-profit,regionally accredited institution, it offers high-quality, transfer-level Associate degrees to high-potential students who have “the will but not the way” to college success. With all-in costs of$5,240 per student per year – approximately the amount of a Federal Pell Grant – students haveaffordable access to quality personalized learning solutions, comprehensive wrap-around supportservices, and post-program placement, ensuring high persistence and graduation levels. For moreinformation, visit Mount St. Mary’s, Los Angeles;Founded in 1925, Mount St. Mary’s College is a Catholic, liberal arts college where excellence andinnovation define its every endeavor. Mount St. Mary’s provides a dynamic education to a diversestudent body that primarily includes women, first-generation students and other underservedpopulations. Mount St. Mary’s offers associate and bachelor’s degrees for women, as well asundergraduate and graduate programs for working adults on two historic campuses in LosAngeles. The mission of Mount St. Mary’s is to provide a superior education enhanced by anemphasis on building leadership skills and fostering a spirit to serve others.About MyCollege Foundation:MyCollege Foundation, is a 501c(3) public charity and a grantee of the Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation. It aims to help low-income youth in America gain high quality college credentialsmore affordably. It has partnered with Mount St. Mary’s College to establish Portmont College atMount St. Mary’s, and provides Portmont College with the funding and the pedagogical,technology, and student support innovations it needs to succeed in its mission.Contact:Lindsey ReadCSG PR3225 East 2nd AvenueDenver, CO 80206937 408 9321
  4. 4. lread@csg-pr.com ###