At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’re working toward a world where every person has an opportunity to lead a healthy, productive life—a vision that is as important in our home state as it is around the globe.
We believe that every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or family income. A good education—resulting in college degree or credential—is still a reliable ticket to a career that supports a family, opens up new opportunities, and fulfills purpose and potential.
Washington State is a place that values equal opportunity, liberty, problem-solving and innovation. But structural racism and systemic barriers in our education and economic systems prevent many Washingtonians from fulfilling their full potential, and these same barriers prevent our communities from living up to our ideals. Right now, students of color make up the majority in Seattle schools and surrounding districts, but race and poverty still predict student success—with achievement and opportunity gaps showing up as early as kindergarten.
A great education system benefits all students, and we’re focusing our resources where they are needed most—with students who are Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, Native/Indigenous, immigrant, first generation, or from low-income families.
These issues don’t just affect our children right now—they put our economy, our quality of life, and our future at risk. The industries that drive Washington’s economy—technology, science, health, and international trade—require a well-educated workforce, and our futures are more interconnected than ever. The neighborhoods, communities, and natural beauty that define our character is built on compassion and empathy—we live in a place where people care about each other.
It’s up to all of us, working together. If we want to keep our strong economy and our vibrant, healthy communities, then we must prepare all our kids with better, more equitable educational opportunities.