December 2022 Newsletter: Thank you
Our Washington State team often says, “We do heart things.” That is to say, we do the hard things with heart. I’ve been so proud of how my team has led with their hearts this year as we developed our new Washington State strategy, which focuses on helping more young people reach their postsecondary and career goals in our state.
Our hearts, along with some rather emotional tears, showed up in a virtual event that my team hosted last week. We’re especially grateful to Emmy-nominated poet Christian Paige for kicking off the event with an inspiring spoken word performance. You can watch Christian’s performance and hear more details from our team in this recording.
While this work is deeply personal and emotional for us, we also like to say, “We didn’t come here to play.” We’re serious about our commitment to Washington’s youth. While we’re taking the next couple of weeks to spend time with family and close out the year, you’ll hear more in early 2023 about how we plan to engage and build relationships with local communities – starting with the statewide learning network we plan to launch.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll scroll down to explore what our Community Engagement team has supported this year and submit your own questions about our new Washington State strategy, which we’ll answer in future newsletters.
Director, Washington State Initiative
Community Engagement: Year in Review
Our Community Engagement team – which is separate from the Washington State Initiative – provides grants in and around Seattle that respond to emerging community needs and strengthen the work already being done by local nonprofits. In 2022, our Community Engagement team made nearly $14 million in grants to a range of local nonprofits. Here’s a look at what some of these grants supported this year:
As housing costs continued to rise in the region, so did homelessness. That’s why we helped launch Partnership for Zero, a new public-private effort that aims to dramatically reduce unsheltered homelessness in targeted areas of King County.
We also funded organizations working on the ground to connect people to safe, stable homes, including Together Center, LifeWire, and the Interfaith Family Shelter. If you’re looking for ways to give back this holiday season, consider supporting the many homeless service providers working to help keep the adults and children they serve warm.
We provided nearly $3 million to local food banks to address the increasing demand put on them as a result of inflation, low donations, and rising food costs.
We also supported Native-led organizations such as Chief Seattle Club and the Seattle Indian Health Board and several Latino-led organizations, including Casa Latina, Latino Community Fund, and Villa Comunitaria.
In response to the ways they’ve had to evolve over the years, we provided $600,000 in grants to our local library systems.
With refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine arriving in Washington state this year, our grants helped local organizations provide a safe, warm welcome to people coming to a new land to build their future.
The Puget Sound region is full of diverse and dedicated community leaders, and we’re grateful to all of our local partners working to address issues affecting the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors—this year and into the future.
Spotlight: Why WA students aren’t completing college applications
In recent years, Washington state has ranked 46th in the country in the percentage of students who enroll in a postsecondary program right after high school. Yet we know that nearly 90% of Washington’s high school students want to pursue a postsecondary credential. To learn more about the barriers preventing students from reaching their education goals, Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning recently surveyed more than 800 Washingtonians who haven’t completed education or training after high school.
Your Questions, Answered.
Every month, we’ll answer your questions about our Washington state work.
Q: You said the first step in your new strategy will be to form a learning network in early 2023. How many regional collaborations do you expect to invite to the learning network?
A: All regional collaborations are welcome to express interest in joining. There will be some basic criteria, like a willingness to use data and share progress updates with others. While we don’t have that specific criteria set yet, we’ll share it in early 2023 for organizations and community members to review. When that’s ready to share, we plan to host several information sessions and conduct outreach into communities to be sure everyone is aware of the opportunity.
Got Additional Questions?
Do you have questions about our new education strategy in Washington state? You can submit them here. We’ll be answering some of the most-asked questions in next month’s newsletter and future editions.
What We’re Reading
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation To Invest $75 Million Towards Post-Secondary Education Readiness, Seattle Medium
- Yakima schools pilot college credit program as WA leaders push to expand access, Seattle Times
- ‘This Doesn’t Just Happen by Chance’: How the Chehalis School District Became a Jewel in Public Education, The Chronicle
- Is WA doing enough on higher education reform?, Seattle Times
- Opinion: Parents and students need more information about college and careers, Hechinger Report
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