Announcing the 25 partnerships in the Limitless Learning Network
Back in June, we shared a new partnership opportunity: a chance to join the Limitless Learning Network, a new collaborative statewide learning network focused on postsecondary enrollment.
The opportunity marked this year’s biggest milestone for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Washington state education work, which is focused on helping young people design the future they want. Nearly 90% of Washington’s high schoolers say they want to continue their education after graduation, but only 50% today enroll in postsecondary programs. The reasons vary but include a lack of advising supports that help students see the path to their career aspirations, concerns about cost, and more. Washington state, for example, is 49th in the country in FAFSA completion.
By supporting the local schools, colleges, and organizations that know their communities best, we believe we can help close these gaps.
This month, we are thrilled to see our grantee Education First launch the Limitless Learning Network, which will regularly bring 25 local partnerships from across the state together – in person and virtually – over the next four school years. These partnerships feature practitioners who are leading the design and implementation of strategies and programs that support students’ transitions from high school to postsecondary education in Washington state.
Through Limitless, local partnerships will have an opportunity to connect with other teams of local K-12 and higher education partners across Washington state, creating space to share information, explore new ideas, and develop best practices together.
“The launch of the Limitless Learning Network is significant. We are thrilled to be working with local partners across the state of Washington to catalyze systems and implement strategies that turn the dream of postsecondary education into a reality, particularly for those students facing the biggest barriers,” said Kelly Kovacic Duran, a principal at Education First.
One of our goals in supporting Limitless was to bring a diverse range of partnerships together – whether that was geographic diversity or partnerships that represented different organizations and models. We also hoped that Limitless partnerships would focus on solutions that worked for students facing the biggest systemic barriers – including Black, Latino, and Indigenous students and students from low-income communities.
We are excited about the ways in which Education First has accomplished these goals.
Historically, a large portion of our education investments have been focused on the Greater Seattle region. Our goal with Limitless was to expand our support to regions across the state. We are pleased to see that:
- Limitless partnerships extend well beyond the I-5 corridor in Western Washington – from as far west as Aberdeen to rural Springdale in Eastern Washington.
- The 25 partnerships represent 19 of Washington state’s 39 counties.
- Thirty percent of the K-12 districts included in these partnerships serve rural communities, which we know have unique challenges – and opportunities.
The K-12 districts participating in the Limitless Learning Network reach about one-quarter of all high school students in Washington state.
- These school districts serve nearly half of all Black students in Washington state, and 30% of students from low-income backgrounds.
- Four partnerships indicated that their work substantively focuses on Indigenous students.
We’ve seen through our national Education Pathways strategy how powerful cross-sector partnerships can be, particularly when K-12, higher education, community, and workforce leaders coordinate together. That’s why it’s so exciting to see that, in addition to the 33 K-12 districts and 30 higher education institutions that make up Limitless, other local organizations are joining the Learning Network.
- Eight community-based organizations are included in local partnerships.
- Four educational service districts (ESDs), four workforce organizations, and one county government organization (a library system!) are also represented in local partnerships.
Over the course of four school years, the 25 Limitless partnerships will engage in a wide range of learning activities such as virtual learning sessions and two-in person convenings each year. The goal is to collaborate with other regions and community members to learn what’s possible to help more students move forward successfully after high school.
With Education First as the Learning Network manager, Limitless participants will explore topics such as strengthening partnership capacities, increasing data capacity, and designing and implementing effective strategies to increase postsecondary enrollment rates.
Head to the Education First website to explore all 25 Limitless partnerships and learn more about the Learning Network.
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