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/WASFA) from October through April.

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

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

Futures Northwest’s (FuturesNW) project, From One to Many aims to promote and increase access to post-secondary education and training programs by implementing a community led, peer-to-peer financial aid and access program in direct partnership with Lummi Nation leaders. Lummi Nation educational advocates facilitate individual and community meetings where families learn and engage in financial planning for college, explore pathways, and access to resources that support their journey. Acknowledging the historic and traumatic reality that Western education has played in Native/Indigenous communities, for many families the barriers are not as simple as applying, selecting, and paying for education. Engaging in dialogues about education and training programs, why they matter, and what support is needed to get there will support Lummi Nation’s goal in increasing the number of members who pursue higher education, reaching the community’s personal and professional goals. FuturesNW works in partnership with the Lummi Nation School District, the Lummi Business Council, Northwest Indian College, 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.

WCC fun.jpg

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.

In the 2018/2019 academic school year we created an online resources platform to guide Whatcom county students and families navigate career and college pathways filled with local opportunities and support services. Throughout the project we engaged in community dialogues with schools, local business, and union leaders in to illuminate available apprenticeship opportunities in Whatcom County, which was identified as a pathway that is underrepresented in post secondary opportunities. On the platform we also included JobCorps, military pathways, and our 5 local colleges (BTC, NWIC, SVC, WCC, and WWU). Additionally we showcased some amazing support services in Whatcom County that are available for free or low cost, and highlight organizations who are helping our youth gain work opportunities and explore their career interests in tangible ways. Finally, social capital was identified as a critical component of job attainment in our region and we decided our next steps in Whatcom Jobs for Whatcom Students needed to help increase access to it.

For the 2019/2020 academic year we are exploring with students and community professionals creative and engaging ways for students to connect with local leaders, build relationships, and develop sustainable programming to increase social capital, ultimately leading to concrete opportunity and a deeper awareness of the options available to them. Option High School volunteered to pilot and develop the program along with local community volunteers, agencies and businesses. Once the concept is explored and tested we will expand the program out to other Whatcom County schools. To say we are excited about this program is an understatement. If you would like to contribute or participate in this program Ashley would love to connect with you via email at adelatour@futuresnw.org.

Whatcom Jobs for Whatcom Students is made available through generous grants from the Alcoa Foundation and The Whatcom Community 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