June 2023 Newsletter: Our focus this summer — and beyond




Director’s Note

As I shared in a recent blog post, in our work to ensure young people in Washington state have the opportunities they need to design the future they want, I always try to keep three students in the forefront of my mind.

  • That first student is 16-year-old Angela. I had to battle with my teacher to use Toni Morrison for my AP term paper because she didn’t know the award-winning author or her work. You can imagine my surprise when my teacher returned my paper with a 100% score and said she owed me an apology.
  • The second student I channel is a student I will call EF. I had to teach EF to read when he was in the 9th grade. Despite great progress we made, he ended up leaving the school when I left. I remember to this day that we failed him – as a system, as a school.
  • The third student is one that we’re never going to meet. This is the student who is going to appreciate that we acted as good ancestors; that we pushed on these systems and created opportunities for them.

These three students are who I have in mind as we take the first big step in our Washington State work. We recently partnered with Education First to launch the application for Limitless, a collaborative statewide Learning Network that will focus on postsecondary enrollment.

We highlight Limitless in this newsletter, along with our Community Engagement grantees creating welcoming environments for the LGBTQIA+ community this Pride Month. And be sure to check out what Allan Golston learned from high school students in Yakima.

Enjoy your summer!

Angela Jones

Director, Washington State Initiative

Be a part of Limitless

Our partners at Education First launched an open application to join Limitless, a collaborative statewide learning network that will focus on postsecondary enrollment. The Limitless Learning Network will be made up of local K-12 and higher education partners who will share information, experiences, and expertise in removing barriers and supporting students in finding and following their path forward after high school.

Learn more and apply: Limitless, a Postsecondary Enrollment Learning Network

Allan Golston talks pathways with seven Yakima students

U.S. Program president Allan Golston recently traveled to Yakima to hear from seven students attending nearby high schools and taking part in dual credit programs – students like freshman Zaid, who is one of 12 siblings, loves to run long distance, play the guitar and standup bass, and is on track to graduate from high school with an associate degree.

What they discussed: These high schoolers talked about the confidence they’ve gained taking college-level courses in high school. Some are getting hands-on training in career-focused programs focused on dentistry and nursing.

Why it matters: Students who participate in these early college programs are much more likely to enroll in and persist in college. However, access to these programs is not equal across our state.

  • About 59% of Washington students complete a non-CTE dual-credit class.
  • That drops to 56% for Black students, 43% for students from low-income backgrounds, and 32% for Indigenous students.

Working with state and local partners, that’s something we hope to change.

Read and watch the conversation: What Seven High School Students Taught Me about the Need for Education Pathways Programs

Connecting the dots from education to the workforce

When used effectively, data systems can help education and workforce organizations understand how students progress from early education through their career – and the conditions most critical to their success. But disconnected or incomplete data systems make it hard to get this information.

  • To address this, Mathematica, Mirror Group and members of the Gates Foundation’s education data team worked with researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and community advocates to review more than 40 ed-to-workforce data frameworks and create a single framework that builds on their strengths.
  • The result: a publicly available resource centered on student success called the Education to Workforce Indicator Framework.

Did you know? Washington state’s Education Research & Data Center (ERDC) is putting this framework to use. ERDC links education and workforce data from multiple state agencies, and transforms this data into insights that inform Washington decisionmakers. ERDC is using this framework to explore new metrics that could be integrated into their data dashboards and other reporting.

Why it matters: The E-W Framework highlights key connections that are needed between systems to support students as they progress from early education through their career. If we can create stronger links, we have a clearer path to what’s working for our students.

Learn More Education, the Workforce and the Imperative to Connect the Data Dots

A success story: Raising awareness about financial aid

The Washington Student Achievement Council recently partnered with the North Central Educational Service District to develop animated videos about financial aid and postsecondary education opportunities – and share them with students during school hours. The response from students has been promising.

What they found: Students confirmed in surveys that they learned quite a bit from the videos:

  • 87% of students say they learned something new.
  • 88% of students also learned more about the Washington College Grant.

Why it matters: The Washington College Grant is a new, flexible financial aid option that can be used for many pathways beyond high school, including apprenticeships, certificate programs, job training, or college. But students can’t take advantage of the grant if they don’t know it exists. As a Washington STEM survey confirmed, students largely rely on their schools to provide this information. This trial project from WSAC and NCESD backs that up.

Learn more and watch the videos: Informational videos increase awareness of financial aid and education options

Get prepared for the updated FAFSA

Did you know: The Better Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will open this December. What’s “better” about these FAFSA changes? As part of a Better FAFSA toolkit, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) highlights the top 10 changes coming to the FAFSA that students, families, and should prepare for.

Why it matters: The new FAFSA process should be much better for students and families, especially students from low-income backgrounds. Washington state is 49th in the country in FAFSA completion, and if we want that to improve, students need to understand their financial aid options – and how to access them. Preparing for the new FAFSA is an important step.

Learn more NCAN’s Better FAFSA Toolkit

Community Engagement Spotlight: Celebrating with Pride

For decades, Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has welcomed and advocated for the LGBTQIA+ community. On this Pride Month, our Community Engagement team is grateful for the chance to support Community Roots in the development of Pride Place, LGBTQIA-affirming affordable apartments for seniors in the neighborhood. Applications just opened for 118 apartments at Pride Place, which sits above an LGBTQIA-focused community and health services center run by GenPride.

Why it matters: A 2018 study commissioned by the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing found that 40% of older LGBTQ participants wanted to move, compared to just 13% in the general older population, but nearly one-third reported experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation in the sale or rental of a house, apartment, or condominium. Pride Place offers a welcoming affordable option.

Learn more A new rainbow landmark on Capitol Hill, application process begins for Pride Place ‘affordable, affirming housing for LGBTQIA+ seniors’

Student Voice: How we can better support students learning English

Daniela Mattson, a junior at Sammamish High School, writes for her school newspaper, plays tennis, and helps lead a mentoring program for multilingual learner students. As she recently wrote in The Seattle Times, her mentoring work has uncovered several ways we can better support multilingual learners.

What she found: Talking to her peers and teachers, Daniela highlighted subtitles during lessons, providing more translated materials for family members, and making personal connections as three strategies to support multilingual learners.

Why it matters: It’s hard to both understand classroom assignments and feel included in them when English isn’t your first language. As Daniela found, in addition to improving students’ academic experience, we must improve their sense of belonging so they want to stay engaged in their learning.

Learn more Student Voices: Schools can better serve students learning English. Here’s how

Your Questions, Answered.

Every month, we’ll answer your questions about our Washington state work.

Q: You recently announced the launch of a learning network for regional partnerships. How do you expect these regions to engage with state education leaders and advocates?

A: We expect to identify moments for regional partnerships and state leaders to come together and learn from each other. Our goal is for regions to identify programs and strategies that help students with their high school to postsecondary transitions – and then help bring these solutions to statewide education advocates and leaders who can help ensure they expand to reach all students across the state.

Got Additional Questions?

Do you have questions about our new education strategy in Washington state? You can submit them here. We’ll continue to answer the most-asked questions in future editions.

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