During the 2017-18 academic year, we asked our partners their input into our strategic plan – to help us focus on what matters, and for which topics there is greatest need. Thank you to the many of you, from multiple partner constituencies who provided your insights. Through your feedback we learned that there is a high need for us to: continue our focus on financial aid support; increase efforts to reach families around financial aid literacy and; ground the work in what is relevant to students.

We are turning your ideas into action in the following ways:

1.     Expansion of financial aid application events (FAFSA/WAFSA) from October through March.

2.     Addition of scholarship support events in February and March.

3.     Expansion of school-based coaches to work alongside counselors to get out information on the financial aid process and applications for low-income and first-generation students – particularly College Bound Scholars.

4.     From One to Many: A pilot to train community members to serve as education advocates, to train and support family learning associated with financial aid literacy.

5.     Whatcom jobs for Whatcom Students: A new community-wide effort to link employers’ needs with post-secondary education, training and financial aid literacy.

Thank you for your valuable insights, and we look forward to monitoring outcomes and successes.

From One to Many

Statistics show that disproportionate numbers of Native Youth miss the opportunity of post-secondary education. Futures Northwest’s (FuturesNW) project, From One to Many aims to change that by implementing community led, peer to peer financial aid and access training in direct partnership with Lummi Nation. By providing a structure for conversations around a family’s dreams and hopes for their children’s education, these dialogues have the potential to change generational poverty and lift community voice. Lummi Nation educational advocates will also facilitate community meetings where families learn and engage in financial planning for college. Changing the dialog about who goes to college and why will enable the Lummi Nation to increase the number of members who can pursue higher education to reach their personal and professional goals. With increased education there is significantly greater opportunity for higher-paying, family-wage jobs that can lead to achieving personal aspirations. FuturesNW will lead the project in partnership with the Lummi Nation School District, the Lummi Business Council, the Northwest Indian College Financial Aid and Scholarship Office, Lummi Employment Training Center, WWU Human Services Program, and the Financial Aid Offices of WWU, BTC, and WCC. The From One to Many program is made possible through a generous grant from the Whatcom Community Foundation.

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Whatcom Jobs for Whatcom Students

 

Finding qualified candidates to fill available occupations was recently identified by the Whatcom County business community as a major challenge in our region.[1] This challenge creates an opportunity for greater collaboration between business, higher education, K-12 schools, and nonprofits like FuturesNW to develop educational pathways to fulfill future local labor market demand.

The goal of Whatcom Jobs for Whatcom Students is to develop and implement sustainable outreach programs to support first-generation[2] students and College Bound[3] scholars in Whatcom County move more effectively from school to local living-wage employment opportunities.

Our first steps in fulfilling these goals are as follows:

1)     Community Dialogue: Engage local business and union leaders in order to identify and illuminate available apprenticeship opportunities in Whatcom County.

2)     Communication Campaign: Promote college fairs, career expos, financial aid workshops, to raise awareness and recruit participation.

3)     Community Outreach:  Provide schools, students, and families opportunities to explore career interests, apply for financial aid, and transition to post-secondary training.

Whatcom Jobs for Whatcom Students is made available through a generous grant from the Alcoa Foundation.

 

[1] McKenzie, Mike. “Seven Industry Leaders Forecast 2018.” Whatcom Business Alliance.

[2] First-generation refers to students who will be the first in their family to pursue post-secondary education.

[3] College Bound is a program administered by the Washington Student Achievement Council that commits state financial to students who are low-income, in foster care, or receive food or TANF benefits