The Gateway to Careers Act has been reintroduced in the Senate – here’s what students and working adults can expect

By Caroline Treschitta, January 26, 2021

Gaining access to supportive services is one of the most challenging barriers students face when seeking a career. A lack of childcare or reliable transportation can prevent them from completing training programs that lead to good-paying jobs. This is especially true of the growing number of non-traditional students across the country.

Today, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) reintroduced the Gateway to Careers Act to address these challenges. The bill was originally introduced by a bipartisan coalition in the Senate in 2019. Gateway to Careers supports students experiencing barriers to postsecondary access and completion, as well as those disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. It does so by authorizing a new grant program in the Higher Education Act entitled the “Career Pathways Grant Program” for eligible career pathway partnerships.

What partnerships are eligible for grant funding under the Gateway to Careers Act?

Eligible career pathways partnerships can consist of:

  • An educational institution. This could include a two-year public institution of higher education, an area career and technical education school that provides postsecondary level instruction or a consortium of these entities;
  • One or more workforce development partners. This could include a local board, an industry association, and/or a community-based organization;
  • A Secondary or Adult Education Partner. Some examples include local education agencies, an eligible provider as defined by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), or a career and technical education agency as defined by The Perkins Act.

What can eligible partnerships use Gateway to Careers Act grant funding for?

Career pathway partnerships would be able to use this grant funding for:

  • Creating or expanding dual-enrollment opportunities for secondary students or disconnected youth;
  • Implementing evidence-based strategies that help adult and other nontraditional students access skills and recognized postsecondary credentials;
  • Providing direct support services to students. This could include childcare, transportation, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, assistance in obtaining health insurance, and assistance in obtaining federal nutrition and/or housing benefits;
  • Allocating emergency grants to help students who are facing financial hardships;
  • Offering career pathways navigation and case management services;
  • Other activities identified by eligible institutions as necessary to support the development of implementation of career

The Gateway to Careers Act is an important step in an inclusive economic recovery from COVID-19. It’s essential that Congress and the administration pass this bill and invest in workers who have lost jobs because of the pandemic, or need upskilling to stay in their current jobs.