November 2023: Meet our Education Roundtable




An Education Roundtable member standing next to a presentation board.

Director’s Note

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to join our partners at The Scholar First to kick off our Education Roundtable, which features students, educators, and state education and nonprofit leaders.

The Scholar First will bring this group together several times a year to highlight best practices, find alignment on education goals, and collaborate on the actions needed to position more students for postsecondary success, particularly traditionally underserved students.

In addition to the cross-regional learning that’s happening through the Limitless Learning Network, the Gates Foundation aims to support meaningful and actionable collaboration across state agencies and education nonprofits—all while centering the experiences and needs of our students and educators. That’s the purpose of the Education Roundtable.

I left our first convening absolutely energized by the conversations, information sharing, and learning from students from across the state. As 2023 comes to a close, I am excited about what can be if we listen and lean in together.

Angela Jones
Director, Washington State Initiative

Meet our Education Roundtable

The Education Roundtable members standing as a group together.

Our newly launched Education Roundtable, coordinated and facilitated by The Scholar First, features a diverse group of 40 students, teachers, principals, superintendents, statewide education leaders, education data experts, and nonprofit leaders.

  • The Scholar First is led by Dr. Tammy Campbell, a former superintendent and educational leader with nearly 30 years of experience working in public education.
  • One goal of the Education Roundtable is to increase postsecondary success for every student in Washington state, with a strategic emphasis on students that have been traditionally underserved.
  • Meet the members of our Education Roundtable.

“At The Scholar First, our leadership intention is to position the work of school leaders so that they meet the diverse needs of their students, fostering academic excellence, and nurturing social-emotional growth,” Dr. Campbell shared with us. “We accomplish this by harnessing the power of the collective team through protocol to leverage voice, systems thinking, and co-construction, steadfastly focused on student outcomes.”

In their first meeting, Education Roundtable members examined data on the economic realities in Washington state related to workforce impacts and its implications for the education system. After reviewing this data, members identified themes that include:

  • The urgent need to raise awareness about the value of postsecondary success;
  • The range of employment opportunities tied to postsecondary programs;
  • Concerns about equity in access to college and career prep programs; and
  • The role AI and automation will play in future jobs.

Education Roundtable members committed to sharing key learnings from the day and implications within their respective roles.

The Bottom Line: We can’t support all students in Washington state if we aren’t collaborating across state agencies, regions, and nonprofit leaders—and bringing educator and student voice to the table. To accomplish this, The Scholar First will continue to help Education Roundtable members advance the following goals for the 2023-24 school year:

  • Creating a common definition of postsecondary success, and drafting indicators and strategies that align to this definition.
  • Learning from student insights to identify and advance solutions that will ensure more students experience postsecondary success.
  • Routinizing strategies to share our work, thereby building the capacity of network leaders as they work to solve complex challenges they encounter to advance more students in reaching postsecondary success.

Learn more: WA State Education Roundtable

Meet a Royal High School student with big dreams

Maria Cisneros standing with her parents together.

If there’s one thing Washington STEM has learned through its High School to Postsecondary Collaborative, it’s that Washington students have big dreams!

  • Meet one of those students in this beautiful video produced by Washington STEM.
  • Maria Cisneros attends Royal High School in Central Washington.
  • Her family moved from Mexico when she was 9 years old to pursue agricultural work.
  • Learn how Washington STEM is helping Maria pursue her postsecondary dreams so she, in her words, “can go on to something bigger.

Why it matters: As Washington STEM has found in surveys, nearly 90% of high school students say they want to pursue a post-high school education, but only 50% of graduates today enroll in a postsecondary program that can put them on a path to the future they want.

  • We’re proud to partner with Washington STEM and regions across Washington state to help change this.
  • Washington STEM now works with 30+ schools across the state through the High School to Postsecondary Collaborative, helping these schools dig into their data to better understand their students.
  • Together with their school community—educators, staff, students, and their parents—they are opening doors to more postsecondary opportunities.

Watch Maria’s story: Washington students have big dreams

Prepare for Better FAFSA with a financial aid toolkit

FAFSA roadmap beginning with eligibility until enrollment.

Did you know: In 2023, Washington state had the third best year-over-year improvement in FAFSA completion in the country?

  • Let’s keep that momentum going when the Better FAFSA form rolls out in December!

Want to help students explore their financial aid options? Check out the Washington Student Achievement Council’s (WSAC) financial aid toolkit.

  • Get access to informational videos on the WA Grant, or print out flyers to share with students and families.
  • Download information on Otterbot, a texting service for College Bound Scholarship students.
  • And more!

One quick tip: While the new FAFSA isn’t live yet, there’s one thing students and families can do now: create their Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID account.

  • It can take 1-3 days for your FSA ID to be approved, so it’s best to get that settled now!

Access the WSAC toolkit: WA Financial Aid Toolkit

Holiday gifts that give back

Giving Marketplace

Looking for gifts this holiday season that support good causes? Head to our Discovery Center’s Giving Marketplace this weekend, which features unique gifts from dozens of vendors – with proceeds supporting immigrants and refugees, women and girls, global health, education, the environment, and much more.

  • The Giving Marketplace runs December 1-2, 2023 at our Discovery Center, which is located next to the Seattle Center.
  • Enjoy family-friendly activities and musical performances, including a performance from the Mountlake Terrace High School Jazz Quartet!

Learn more: Meet the Giving Marketplace vendors

Can we talk about…?

Can we talk about...? podcast episode logo

Looking for a new podcast to listen to on your bus commute or while you sit next to the fireplace as the weather cools? Our Community Engagement grantee Philanthropy Northwest has you covered with “Can we talk about…?”.

  • This podcast features stories told by leaders, for leaders, focusing on advancing racial equity in philanthropy.
  • Each episode includes a guide with resources, reflection questions, and exercises.

Listen now: Can we talk about…? podcast

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