February 2023 Newsletter: What Black History Month means to me

Washington State graduates

Director’s Note

“Black History Month is a time of reverence, homage, and celebration.”

“It’s a time to see Black people for who we really are – people striving towards equity and justice.”

“Without the fight my African American ancestors put into creating a country that allows all people to live together, I would not be here.”

These are just a few of the beautiful reflections on Black History Month that local Act Six college scholars shared with Degrees of Change.

While I do love the focus that Black history gets in February, it’s a celebration that lives in and exudes from me all year long.

The quote honoring our African American ancestors really resonates with me. I know that I can because they did. As we collaborate as a state, may we do the work that improves the quality of life for and economic reality of future generations. May we do the type of collaborative work that those we will never meet are compelled to honor. So, as you celebrate the innovations of dynamic people each month, think about what your contribution is or can be…and act upon it. My team and I commit to doing the same.

In this newsletter, you can explore a new report outlining Black well-being in our state, which outlines our state’s progress toward writing a new history for Black communities. We also highlight Washington’s involvement in a national career pathways program and share tips to celebrate Financial Aid Awareness Month. Finally, we leave you with a little student inspiration.

Our partners are doing a lot this month! Thanks for reading and celebrating them.

Angela Jones
Director, Washington State Initiative

New Report on Black Well-Being in Washington

Black Well-Being: Moving Toward Solutions Together

The Black Future Co-Op Fund, a Community Engagement grantee, recently released Black Well-Being: Moving Toward Solutions Together. As the Fund shared on their website, “This report is a love note to Black Washingtonians, written for us and by us, to accelerate change. In each section, we offer approaches identified by Black Washingtonians — actions that we and our society can take to make necessary change across sectors.”

Read the full report

WA Part of National Career Pathways Effort

LAUNCH: Equitable & Accelerated Pathways for All

Although good-paying jobs in our state continue to require post-high school training, enrollment in postsecondary programs has steadily dropped – decreasing 10.7% in Washington between spring 2020 and spring 2022. Partners in Washington state are committed to addressing this, and a new national program will provide them with additional support. Washington was recently selected as an impact site for Launch: Equitable & Accelerated Pathways for All, which received grant funding from the Gates Foundation’s Education Pathways team. Through this program, Washington will work to ensure all students have high-quality career pathways.

Learn more about Launch

Local Partners Receive National Recognition

Illustrated depiction of students and graphs

In September, Tafona Ervin with the Foundation for Tacoma Students and the Road Map Project in South King County received awards from StriveTogether – a national organization that supports cradle-to-career networks – for their work to improve outcomes for students, lead with community, and center equity.

See why our local partners were recognized

Busting Myths During Financial Aid Awareness Month

Financial Aid Myths

February is Financial Aid Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness and bust myths about the financial aid process in Washington state and across the country. And there are plenty of myths to address. For example, a lot of young people and their families think they can only apply for financial aid to go to four-year colleges. The truth? Financial aid can be used for many types of education, including career and technical institutions and even some apprenticeships. The Washington Student Achievement Council created a financial aid myth poster to address some of the most common misconceptions.

Download or share the financial aid myths flyers

Student Spotlight: What Happens When Plans Change

What happens when your career dreams get shattered? That’s the question Jacob had to answer when an injury derailed his college football career. Fortunately, Jacob had resources as a College Success Foundation (CSF) Scholar. With CSF coaching support, he’s now on track to become a physical therapist.

Read more of Jacob’s story

Your Questions, Answered.

Q: How will you work with other funders in the region who are aligned with this work?

A: This is an important priority for us. We believe we can play a role in bringing education funders together – at a state and regional level – so we can make our resources go further together and collaborate to address community-identified needs. Our goal is to create a funders table that identifies areas for collaboration, but also provides opportunities for specific funders to lean in. For example, if a region wanted to focus on mental health for students, funders could learn more about plans through the funders table and provide support if the effort aligns with their priorities. We are currently talking to funders to identify the best format for this kind of collaboration.

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.

What We’re Reading

Education Writers Association

Read next

January 2023 Newsletter: New year with a new strategy

You’re probably wondering: what’s next for our work? We’re figuring out the best way for the foundation to launch and support a learning network focused on postsecondary enrollment.

July 2022 Newsletter: Reflecting on our region’s COVID response

Back in early 2020 (which feels like a decade ago in pandemic years), it was becoming clear that COVID-19 would hit close to home. Given that the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was in Kirkland, we could feel the storm coming. We couldn’t sit on the sidelines, which is why our co-chairs, Bill and Melinda, didn’t hesitate to approve funding to help our neighbors in Washington state.

June 2022 Newsletter: Yakima students highlight the power of teachers

I am writing this note with a heavy heart after last week’s senseless shooting in Uvalde, Texas. As both a mother and former teacher, my heart aches for the families and community that lost too many precious souls too soon. On top of everything else teachers are doing to close out the school year, they continue to be faced with the crushing burden of trying to keep their students safe.