Gateway’s 13th Annual Matters of the Mind Luncheon featuring Ronnie Lott

Luncheon Selfie

On Thursday, October 15th, nearly 500 guests and supporters of Gateway Public Schools gathered for the 13th Annual Matters of the Mind Luncheon with honored guest, Ronnie Lott, NFL Hall of Famer, 49-er legend, four-time Super Bowl Champion, and community advocate.

Lott inspired guests with his heartfelt remarks on the importance of teamwork and his passion for advancing opportunity for underserved youth. As founder of the All Stars Helping Kids Foundation, which supports disadvantaged Bay Area youth, Lott also spoke about the importance of community, giving back, and leveraging privilege to make a difference in the lives of others.

Gateway students who are members of the Burl Toler Scholars program spoke about hope, resiliency, community, and the role that Gateway has played in cultivating their unique strengths and talents. At the end of the program students presented Lott with an honorary Burl Toler Scholar’s letterman jacket.

Inspired by the life and legacy of Burl Toler, the Burl Toler Scholars program is an innovative and integral program at Gateway designed to motivate and support academically at-risk students’ desire to achieve at the highest academic level through mentoring, college visits, and individualized college counseling. Students in the program strive to maintain the grade point average and attendance necessary to earn a Burl Toler Scholar’s jacket, a symbol of success and achievement.

The theme of this year’s luncheon was Championing Success and Gateway’s Executive Director, Sharon Olken, urged guests to be champions for public school students. “At Gateway, we believe that public schools and public school students need champions. They need champions who believe that all students are entitled to an education that opens doors for their futures.”

The luncheon is Gateway’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The monies raised directly impact Gateway’s capacity to offer a high quality learning environment, a rigorous curriculum, personalized college counseling, a state of the art learning center, and small classes for all students. Since Gateway’s founding 17 years ago, more than 96% of Gateway’s students have gone on to college, double the statewide rate. 

Gateway Public Schools is committed to the outreach and inclusion of all communities, especially those with historically at-risk students. Our mission is to send well-prepared students to college, and everything we do successfully supports this mission. By serving as a model school public school organization, we demonstrate that public education can and does work for diverse learners, share best practices, and serve as a catalyst for change within the public sphere. For more information about Gateway Public Schools please visit