December 2021 Newsletter: 3 reasons we’re grateful
December 15th, 2021
Recently, I listened to a brief audio clip of Eastern Washington University Professor Philip Watkins describing the findings of his research on gratitude. (Gratitude research sounds like a pretty amazing job.) Professor Watkins found that the participants who wrote down three things they were grateful for were able to sustain their happiness longer than those who only recalled happy memories. So, as we head into the holidays and I look ahead to my first full year as director of the Washington State Initiative in 2022, let me take a few moments here to put that into practice.
First, I’m grateful for the educators in Washington state who are showing up in so many ways for students this year. Your commitment to realizing the promise of education is incredible. In a year with so many obstacles being thrown at schools and families, educators continue to collaborate to find innovative solutions to both existing and new problems.
Second, I want to express my deep gratitude for all the ways people are working to keep Washington communities safe. You provided responsive support to schools. You worked to get food and resources into the hands of families who needed it. You supported public health workers in their efforts to vaccinate community members and care for those impacted by COVID-19. I feel truly fortunate to live in a state that takes these responsibilities seriously.
Finally, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to lead the Washington state team and work in partnership with you. One thing that I love about our state is how unique each region is. At the same time, we serve our students better when we work together and share what’s working and, quite frankly, what flopped. My goal is to spend the next year learning from all of you. We will use these conversations to understand the best ways the Gates Foundation can advance educational opportunities for all students in the state.
I hope you are able to enjoy a safe and restful holiday break, and I look forward to our conversations and work together in 2022.
Washington State Initiative
This fall, OneAmerica celebrated 20 years of work as an immigrant and refugee advocacy organization. We’re grateful for their partnership to advocate for immigrant and refugee students. Did you miss their virtual celebration? Watch the whole event on their website. And take some time to explore OneAmerica’s recent report, Creating Quality Jobs for All in Washington’s Tech Sector, which examines inequities within the tech sector that limit opportunities for career growth and achievement for women, Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, and refugees.
Our Community Engagement team provides responsive grants that address emerging community needs. When the pandemic emerged in 2020, demand for food and other basic resources grew exponentially. In response, our Community Engagement team supported a number of local food banks who were often serving double the number of people. A $1 million grant helped the Ballard Food Bank open their new home this year, and we also made grants to the Rainier Valley, South King County, White Center, and West Seattle Food Banks in the last few years. The Community Engagement team is so grateful to these organizations, who were among many that provided such essential and vital food security to their communities.
New Grant Opportunity
What if every high school student had the chance to take courses that align with their interests and would help them complete their associate degree by year 13 — at no cost? A new grant program, Accelerate[ED], is funding regional efforts to do just that. Accelerate[ED] is interested in projects to design accessible career pathways that support students in earning 30 college credits by the end of high school and guide students into career-aligned courses. Read more about the grant opportunity, and submit your application before January 21, 2022.
What We're Watching
- Seattle-area youth created this guide to connect teens to multicultural mental health care, The Seattle Times
- Equity & Impact: Community at the Center, the Road Map Project
- More students flunk this high school course than any other, Gates Notes, blog of Bill Gates
- Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Support Migrant and Immigrant Students, Edutopia
- We can carry pandemic-inspired empathy into the future, The Seattle Times
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