May 2023: Our recent trip to Yakima




Director’s Note

Dear partners,

As we get close to wrapping up another school year, I’m feeling energized by recent conversations and trips I’ve had across our beautiful state.

Earlier this month, I joined our U.S. Program president, Allan Golston, for a trip to Yakima. It was great to be back where my career started! Allan had a conversation with seven students who were enrolled in dual credit programs. They highlighted how powerful it has been to know they can succeed in college-level courses (and earn college credits along the way). In June, we will share a video from that conversation – I can’t wait for you to hear from these future lawyers, poets, nurses, pilots, accountants, and orthodontists!

Allan and I also had lunch with regional partners who are helping students make a successful transition from high school to postsecondary (shout-out to El Porton de Pepe for the fantastic food!).

Two things stuck with me from that conversation:

  • Regions need an organization that understands local needs and has the resources to bring partners together to advance collective solutions for students. In Yakima, that’s ESD 105. We know the backbone partner looks different in each region, but it’s critical to have that local connector.
  • Communities like Yakima are still struggling to access meaningful data that tells them how students are doing, what supports they need, and which supports are actually helping students reach their postsecondary aspirations.

We believe we can play a role in helping regions across the state with both challenges. In mid-June, our grantee Education First will release an open application for regional collaborations to join a new statewide learning network focused on that high school to postsecondary transition.

If you know someone who might be interested in learning more, have them sign up for our next newsletter, where we’ll share all the relevant details.

Angela Jones

Director, Washington State Initiative

Crosscut Ideas Festival: Building the Education-to-Workforce Pipeline

Angela Jones recently moderated a conversation at the Crosscut Ideas Festival focused on building the education-to-workforce pipeline. Panelists discussed how to involve students in co-designing their career pathways, what they hope education looks like in 10 years, and the students that keep them going.

Meet the panelists: Joining Angela was Kelvin Dankwa, mentoring program coordinator in the office of African American Male Achievement at Seattle Public Schools; Rebecca Wallace, assistant superintendent for secondary education and pathway preparation at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI); and Angie Mason-Smith, program director at Washington STEM.

Fun fact: Angela learned after the conversation that her dad was Kelvin’s middle school counselor! What a small world.

Watch the conversation: Building the Education to Work Pipeline

Make me care about … Ninth Grade

K-12 education is the foundation of a student’s academic career, and one grade sticks out above the rest: ninth grade. Krystal Payne from the Network for College Success joined the Gates Foundation’s “Make Me Care About” podcast to highlight why this grade is so important.

Why it matters: Success in ninth grade is the single most powerful metric for predicting students’ educational and career success. Fortunately, as Krystal highlights, there are steps we can take to support students who fall off track during their freshman year.

Listen to the podcast: Make Me Care About Ninth Grade

Washington grant makes college and career training a reality

The Washington College Grant is one of the most generous state financial aid programs in the country. During the 2021-22 academic year, the state gave out nearly $425 million to more than 94,000 students via the grant.

Why it matters: Cost is one of the biggest barriers to postsecondary enrollment. The Washington College Grant removes this barrier for many families, as the maximum award covers full tuition at any in-state public college, including community and technical colleges.

Learn more: How two nursing students are using the grant to complete their programs

Community Engagement Spotlight: Seattle Foundation

A year ago, the Seattle Foundation welcomed Alesha Washington as the new president and CEO. She recently had a fireside chat with board chair Ed Taylor, reflecting on her one-year journey. “I think it will never get old for me how beautiful this place is.” That was how Alesha kicked off the conversation, while also noting that for all our region’s beauty, there are also challenges.

What they discussed: Alesha discussed what drew her to the Seattle Foundation in the first place, along with her focus for the foundation this year. She also talked about the kind of courage and will that’s needed in philanthropy to push meaningful change forward.

Watch the chat: Building Our Future Together

Community Engagement Spotlight: Mental Health Awareness Month

(Photo Credit: Seattle Indian Health Board)

During Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re proud to celebrate the work of the Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB). With the foundation’s support, SIHB recently purchased a property on Vashon Island – home to the original tribal lands of the Puyallup people – that will soon become a residential treatment center for substance use disorders.

Why it matters: The treatment center will focus on fostering cultural identity and providing traditional medicine and practices. These techniques help strengthen cultural values and heal historical trauma, said SIHB CEO and president Esther Lucero. They also led to the lowest recidivism rates in the state at SIHB’s previous treatment center.

Learn more: New residential center on Vashon Island to offer ‘culturally attuned’ care

Student Voice: Strengthening the High School & Beyond Plan

Donalda Brantley, Spokane high school junior and student member of the Washington State Board of Education, writes about the insights she’s collected from her peers about the High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) experience.

Why it matters: As Donalda says, “Students are the future.” We can’t design solutions like the HSBP for students without their input and goals in mind.

Learn more: Ways to strengthen the HSBP experience

Your Questions, Answered.

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

Q: How do you know if your Washington state education work has been successful?

A: By 2035, our goal is to help 70% of Washington’s students enroll in a postsecondary program after high school—the first step in preparing local students for the good-paying jobs in our state. We expect to see early progress in the regions we support initially, and we hope to bring those solutions to other regions across the state over the next 10 years.

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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