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A Good Year to Be a Washingtonian

December 18, 2017

It’s been a good year to be a Washingtonian – here’s what some of our partners had to say about 2017 and the year ahead:

OneAmerica

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
We are deeply proud of our wins in the 2017 legislative session. While the rest of the country was engulfed with anti-immigrant sentiments, OneAmerica worked to lift Washington State up as a beacon of hope that will continue to welcome and embrace the assets of immigrants. Building on the long term “Speak Your Language” campaign, we worked with education leaders in the Road Map region, parent and youth leaders from across the state, and advocates to pass a bill that expands dual language programs in early learning and K-12 across Washington State. As a result, 10 schools districts and two tribal compact schools were awarded funds to launch new dual language programs with the goal of children becoming fully bilingual and biliterate. In addition, we have effectively and quickly responded to supporting immigrants in our state by tripling state funding for naturalization services, establishing local legal defense funds, and passing sanctuary city ordinances.

What are you most excited about for 2018?
We are excited about the opportunity to build deep leadership and power in our immigrant and refugee parents and youth to advocate and respond to emerging issues while intentionally working to build alliances across different racial and ethnic communities to dismantle the root causes of racism. In addition, we look forward to passing polices that will pave the way for more equal representation, particularly diversifying school boards and city councils across our state.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
Given the national landscape, the way in which OneAmerica will continue to rely on our set of partners in Washington State is more important than ever. We see our community and partners as essential to helping us keep Washington a welcoming place where immigrants and people of color can thrive and prosper.

Seneca Family of Agencies

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
Seneca is incredibly proud to have played a part in supporting Washington charter public schools to create inclusive and supportive environments for all students, including those with disabilities or who face other complex barriers to success. The public recognition they have started to receive regarding this important work will hopefully help shift the perception of charters and demonstrate the need for increased focus in all schools. Seneca’s support on this front has extended to Seattle Public Schools, both in their central administration and at individual schools.

What big topic do you think will be most urgent to address in 2018?
A critical and pressing need will be establishing systems, policies, and increased resources for all schools to provide the appropriate services and support to students impacted by trauma, disability, or mental health needs. This is imperative, not only for students to be allowed the best and most equitable opportunity for success, but also to ensure the sustainability of schools that are committed to supporting them.

What does it mean for you to be part of the Washington state community?
Seneca is honored to be part of a community focused on and committed to the success and well-being of all students. There is a growing appetite and demand for system reform and accountability to outcomes in our state. We look forward to continuing to partner on this push for equity and moving the dial for all Washington students.

Potlach Fund

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
In 2017, we made larger investments in our communities through shifting our grant size from $5,000 to $10,000. We provided 54 grants totaling $525,915.30 and 14 sponsorship awards totaling $6,750. The sponsorship awards are used to participate in our Capacity Building program cohorts. This is quite a dramatic increase from 2005, when we provided 35 grants totaling $90,555.

Additionally, we have implemented a multi-year approach towards supporting language transfer through the Language Preservation & Education grant cycle. Grant support will be offered for: community language assessments (2017), development of a strategic plan (2018), and the implementation of the strategy (2019).

What big topic do you think will be most urgent to address in 2018?
In 2018, we think it is urgent to address the struggles and initiatives related to land sovereignty, tribal recognition, human rights, climate justice, and self-determination. Tribes are sovereign Nations with self-governance structures which differs from urban Native communities where invisibility and political underrepresentation remain a challenge. Each Native community is unique and we strive to uplift all our people and meet them where they are. Due to the current political climate, in 2018, Potlatch Fund is creating an action plan to reinforce our role in contributing to the positive movements within our diverse Native communities.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
Since time immemorial, Pacific Northwest Native peoples held potlatches and enacted the ceremonial protocol of the giveaway: giving away riches from one clan or family to another. The potlatch initiated a gift economy that encouraged wealth distribution and built communities based upon fostering communal responsibility and social equity. Today, our organization celebrates this abundant tradition in two ways:  First, we continue potlatch protocol by collecting and redistributing financial abundance as these gifts strengthen the backbone of Washington state Native communities. Second, we promote and advocate philanthropy as the means to improve these communities and encourage a better quality of life for others.

Green Dot Public Schools

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
We are most proud of successfully launching two new schools serving the Southeast Seattle area, one as a new school start, and the other as a nonprofit merger. Both schools serve a systematically underserved population of students and provide a challenging, creative academic program that includes coursework in computer science, music production, and the visual arts as well as culturally responsive teaching and curricular choices.

What are you most excited about for 2018?
We are very excited about the launch of our Southeast Seattle high school, which will be the first non-tracked, AP-for-All, inclusion model public school in this region. Related, we believe that increasing our families’ voice – both locally Seattle and in Olympia – in advocating for their rights to attend a school and to ensure other charter schools similar to this are allowed to be successful is critical to our schools’ long-term success.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
Our schools’ success absolutely hinges on our community roots and relationships. Each of our three schools is located in three different cities, and each reflecting the different values and priorities of those communities. At our Seattle high school, for example, we are a part of a neighborhood-wide effort to ensure the vibrancy and diversity of our community stays intact via intentional neighborhood planning as a founding Village Partner with the Southeast Economic Opportunity Center. Feedback from the community writ large and from our parents, many of whom are leaders in this community, has helped us tailor both our middle school and high school programs to contribute to the community’s vision of what successful schools should look like.

Road Map Project

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
The Road Map Project this past year has made great strides in better understanding our Black students—from their diverse identities to what they need from the school system serving them. In May, we hosted the Forum for Black Student Success and in November we published Start With Us: Black Youth in South Seattle and South King County.

What are you most excited about for 2018?
We are excited to really dive into our collective work to improve the systems serving our youth. We are also looking forward to improving practices at the local level alongside our communities—including parents, schools, community-based organizations, and others.  

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
We embrace the state’s tremendous racial and cultural diversity. Washingtonians are known for standing up for the rights of all people. This makes us in good company when working to improve school systems on behalf of our youth.

Black Education Strategy Roundtable

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
BESR held our inaugural conference, focused on educational outcomes for Black students.  The conference featured latest research reports on Black students, sessions to support and engage parents and educators on student needs, and impassioned speeches by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and former Secretary of State John B. King.

What big topic do you think will be most urgent to address in 2018?
The big topic we continue to address is that every day, Black students arrive to school buildings and classrooms that continue to not engage students in learning.  We will continue to work with educators, parents, and policy makers to implement systemic and best practice changes.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
This is our home and collectively we can reform our education system to serve the needs of all students.  We have pockets of excellence in education that can become system wide excellence.  People do want better outcomes and our willing and ready to lean into the hard work required to make changes to our public education system.

Rainier Prep

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
When we set out to create Rainier Prep, we were inspired to think differently about what is possible when a group of people commit to changing the odds for all kids. From year one to year two, despite being ruled unconstitutional our first week of school, Rainier Prep was able to retain 100% of our staff. Together, we had an unwavering belief in the abilities of all our students. While we are not where we want to be, one example of how we are delivering on our mission is on the Smarter Balanced state assessment, our results from 2017 show that Rainier Prep's African-American seventh graders scored 70% proficient on the math assessment, whereas the state’s average is just 27%. Math is a gatekeeper for access to higher education, and our students are developing the skills to be on that college pathway.

What are you most excited about for 2018?
Our inaugural class of 8th graders will graduate this June and head off to high school. These are the students and families who dared to dream with us before we had a building, a faculty, or a track record. They took a leap of faith to build a school from the ground up to serve as a beacon of hope. 2018 will be the year our first students and families leave Rainier Prep and demand a high quality public education system that they know is possible in our region.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
Washington State has actively resisted school reform and the persistent inequities in our public education system across racial and socio-economic lines continues. We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to innovate within the public school system through our charter school. We are proud of our results, but we know first-hand that the current public school system is not meeting the needs of students in South King County. We are excited to be at the forefront of an organization that is working tirelessly every day to dismantle the barriers standing between our students and access to a high-quality education.

Equity in Education Coalition

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
We had a few wins.  Our first Equity Rally brought together over 1,500 people to the capitol buildings to push our legislature to create an equitable funding stream for our students while keeping intact the social safety net. One of our rallies created a national buzz and we were covered by national and international news, print, and television media -- which gave this work amazing exposure.

What are you most excited about for 2018?
We are excited to push the legislature to learn about how a more progressive tax system can help create a sustainable equitable funding stream for our students.  We will be presenting solutions—tangible, attainable solutions—that can help us create a sustainable and equitable funding stream that can be used for closing the opportunity and achievement gap.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
We are able to bring voices often left unheard to the table and change the conversation about education to include the basic civil rights of education and discover violations against kids of color throughout the P-21 continuum.

Tacoma Housing Authority

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
In 2017, Tacoma Housing Authority and Tacoma Community College greatly expanded their program to scale housing for homeless enrolled college students. To build this partnership further, THA purchased 7 acres of commercial property on which it will develop 300 – 500 apartments and another 75-unit apartment complex, both across the street from the TCC campus. See this News Tribune editorial about the purchase: More Affordable Housing near TCC is a Smart Investment.

What big topic do you think will be most urgent to address in 2018?
In 2018, the most urgent topic for the work of affordable housing may be the consequences of tax reform, with its proposed elimination of private activity bonds and 4% low income housing tax credits, and following efforts to pay for tax cuts by cutting federal programs for poor people.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community?
The Tacoma Housing Authority is very fortunate to do its hard work in a supportive Washington State community of such talented and lively housing authorities, nonprofit housers, foundations, and community partners.

Summit Public Schools

Looking back on 2017—what progress are you most proud of?
In 2017, Summit opened a brand new 6-12 school in West Seattle, Summit Atlas. Opening a school is incredibly difficult work fraught with anticipated bumps along the way. We are particularly proud of our school leaders, Katie Bubalo and Andrea Klein, as well as the entire Atlas faculty for their grit and perseverance in bringing this vision of offering a high-quality educational opportunity to the West Seattle community to life. 

What big topic do you think will be most urgent to address in 2018? 
Diversity! All three of the Summit WA schools have incredible economic, geographic and racial diversity. In 2018, we will continue our work on closing the achievement gap, fostering culturally responsive teaching, and building community through our mentoring program. 

What does it mean for you to be a part of the Washington state community? 
It is an honor and privilege to stand side by side with a growing number of organizations in WA committed to providing our families with more educational choices and opportunities.

 
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