June 2022 Newsletter: The many pathways after high school
Congratulations to the Class of 2022! In a world that needs fresh perspective and innovation, I am excited to see this class launch into the next phase of their journey. May we not require perfection of them, but rather support them in reaching their goals and helping their communities to thrive.
I also reached a surprising milestone during this season of education celebrations and was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters when I gave the commencement address at Gonzaga University. During my address, I shared a sentiment with new graduates that I felt worth sharing with all of you, “I never make room for the doubt others try to impose upon me.” Words I continue to live by as my team, like all of you, continue to do hard work with heart.
While June is the beginning of “what’s next” for high school grads, the same is also true for my Washington state team. With our partner, Education First, we have conducted conversations with more than 150 educators and community leaders across the state to inform our strategy development process. We’re hearing a range of ideas, including how to improve the transition for students after high school, and I thought it was worth sharing a couple.
Folks were excited that the foundation was exploring how we could enhance regional collaborations, and they emphasized how important it was to support regions in adapting their approaches based on local needs and strengths. What’s needed for students in a rural district in Yakima may look different than in the heart of Spokane or Tacoma. With this input, we’re asking big questions internally about how we support collective impact that is based on community flexibility and trust.
One other piece of feedback that has stuck with me is that exposure to career pathways can make a big difference in the lives and trajectories of students. Not every student will pursue a four-year degree, but every young person graduating high school needs to understand their options and what it will take to find a living-wage career that fits their strengths and passions. They need to see these jobs in high school and understand the paths to get there.
I always consider feedback a gift, and we’ve received plenty of these gifts in the last few months. We still have a lot of decisions to make before we present our strategy recommendations to our leadership later this fall, and I intend to share updates along the way.
Partners Spotlight: Career Pathways
The big question: what’s next? That is what so many graduating seniors have been asked by friends and family these last few months. There is no shortage of leaders and organizations working to support young people as they navigate their futures. Here are just a few examples from partners.
Pursuing an education or career pathway after high school starts with a dream. Ready Washington recently hosted a contest that asked students to share their dreams for the future and what they plan to do to get there. Watch the creative videos from the five winners.
As Futures Northwest shares in this blog, “There isn’t a one-size-fits-all opportunity for students after high school.” Apprenticeships can be a great option for some students, and many programs accept financial aid awards. That’s why Futures Northwest recently took 60 students to the Northwest Carpenters Institute, exposing them to yet another career pathway program.
Washington state will continue to have an abundance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs to fill, and business leaders are getting creative to honor the future leaders who can fill them. Recently, Boeing hosted the 2022 Washington State STEM Signing Day — recognizing 49 students who intend to pursue a two- or four-year credential in a STEM field. Meet four of these inspiring students.
After some challenging years, high school seniors should feel extremely proud of what they overcame to make it to graduation. Hopefully, they’re also inspired to answer what they want life to look like down the road. Help these curious students create a plan using the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Graduate Handbook, which includes a to-do list, info about college course types, financial aid tips, and more.
World Refugee Day
June 20 was World Refugee Day, a global day to honor the strength and resilience of refugees. For members of our Community Engagement team, the day marked an opportunity to reflect on their local grantees’ work to support refugees entering Washington state.
Everyone deserves the right to seek safety — and a safe environment includes a warm welcome as people come to a new land to build their future. That’s why we recently provided $500,000 to help six organizations provide services to Afghan refugees who have arrived in Washington state: Jewish Family Service, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Lutheran Community Services Northwest, Afghan Health Initiative, International Rescue Committee, and World Relief.
Read how these refugee support organizations are now planning to welcome Ukrainian refugees into our state.
What We’re Reading
- Juneteenth: How and Why It Should Be Taught in K-12 Schools, Education Week
- Demystifying College for First-Generation Students, Edutopia
- Pride in the Classroom, Diverse Issues in Higher Education
- Progress and potential: The innovations of pandemic learning communities led by leaders of color, Center on Reinventing Public Education
- ‘Forgive yourself.’ Advice from a Seattle-area high school graduate, KUOW
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