How do we make sure every child in Columbia and Walla Walla Counties and the Milton-Freewater Area has a chance to thrive in school, in work, and in life?
We’re doing it by working together like never before. By consciously stepping out of silos to embrace a common vision. By collectively spreading best practices that support a person's growth from cradle to career. By intentionally staying connected to our students and to each other. We’re doing it by actively aligning our passions to embrace the possible.
Elevate is our region's cradle-to-career education initiative
- Advocating for Equitable Educational Systems
- Bringing People and Organizations Together
- Helping to Improve Educational Outcomes at All Levels
We work across our local education systems to coordinate and align resources so that every student, regardless of race, ZIP code, or circumstance, can live up to their fullest potential in the classroom, in the community, and in life.
We invite you to learn more about how Elevate is working to engage voices, change mindsets, and build community capacity to improve education regionally.
Elevate is a community partnership of diverse, cross-sector members working collaboratively and leveraging resources in order to strengthen the educational pipeline, from cradle through career. The partnership’s goals are outlined in the Common Agenda, and our work is guided by shared values.
Elevate acts as a catalyst for change, working to eliminate barriers to student success and build better alignment across the educational continuum within our region, which includes Columbia and Walla Walla counties and the Milton-Freewater area. We believe that educational attainment is a shared responsibility of the entire community.
To build a strong educational pipeline that recognizes and fosters the talents of all students from cradle through career.
We believe in the power of education to inspire individuals, create opportunities, and strengthen communities.
We believe sustainable change is possible when all stakeholders are meaningfully involved. We are committed to pursuing new ideas that support locally-relevant ways to improve educational opportunities and outcomes.
We are committed to identifying and removing barriers to educational attainment for all populations.
We believe in collaboration and are committed to aligning goals and leveraging resources across our region so that all students have access to high quality education.
We are committed to supporting all students from cradle through career and believe that learning is a lifelong pursuit.
Students and families are at the center of all that we do. Our decisions are guided by their input and experience.
We are committed to using data to set goals and evaluate our progress.
2015, fall: Community Council launches Education as a Path to Economic Growth study.
2016, summer: Education as a Path to Economic Growth study released. The study finds that investments in education drive economic growth because they generate increased productive capacity. Nineteen study recommendations propose a variety of strategic investments in education for our region: Columbia and Walla Walla counties and the Milton-Freewater area.
2016, fall: Implementation Task Force Action Plan developed to guide advocacy for the 19 study recommendations.
2017: United Way of the Blue Mountains introduced a new strategic plan and began a transformative change from a long-time agency program funder to a collective impact, social change, organization. The collective impact model fundamentally changes the way community partners work together by focusing on intentional, measurable collaboration to demonstrate progress towards improving long-term outcomes.
2017, spring: Implementation Task Force (ITF) Big Investments Subcommittee decides to focus on Recommendation 1: “Improve our community’s understanding of and commitment to high-quality education in our region. a. Establish an educational attainment alliance that will regularly inform residents of the economic, social and personal benefits of educational attainment. b. Actively support investments in learning by educating the public about the necessity of passing local levies and bonds and by advocating for the region’s state legislators to fully fund pre-K–14 education.”
2017: ITF Big Investments Subcommittee researches educational attainment alliances and promise models because most alliances are organized around funding for postsecondary access. Models considered: Harper College, Road Map Project, Alliance for Education, Kalamazoo Promise, Tennessee Promise, Chehalis Foundation. The subcommittee meets with Social Venture Partners (SVP) to learn from their experience supporting Road Map Project.
2017: United Way of the Blue Mountains, Community Council, Sherwood Trust, and Blue Mountain Community Foundation conducted community conversations across the region that identified education as a top priority.
2017, fall: ITF Subcommittee visits with Christy Lieuallen, Executive Director of United Way. United Way agrees to act as the backbone organization for a regional attainment alliance.
2017, winter: ITF Subcommittee drafts framework for educational attainment alliance and strategizes to recruit steering committee members.
2018, spring and summer: ITF Subcommittee recruits Steering Committee members through one-on-one visits around the region.
2019, spring: March 1 Educational Attainment Alliance convenes for their first meeting. Common Agenda is drafted:
2019, summer: conversations to identify first priority area
2019, fall: Steering Committee identifies Middle School as its first priority area. Backbone team conducts additional research and focus group interviews with parents, students, and teachers conducted to identify specific goals.
2020 – January – Jacqueline Lonning hired as Collective Impact Coordinator
2020- February: Flooding closes schools
2020 – March: Covid-19 closes schools, Steering Committee identifies goals for the Middle School Working Group:
- Increase positive connections among middle school students, their families, schools, and the community through purposeful communication and meaningful engagement.
- Create opportunities in schools and the community that inspire all students and support their successful transition to high school.
The Middle School Working Group knows that students and their families are diverse, so we work to create strategies that build on their strengths and remove barriers to success.
2020, summer: Educational Attainment Alliance begins to pursue Strive Together application
2020, summer/fall: Educational Attainment Alliance hosts Community Roundtable Conversations in Milton-Freewater, Touchet, College Place & Walla Walla, Dayton & Waitsburg. The Roundtables bring together local representatives from education, government, mental health, health care, business, and childcare, to discuss critical issues facing families as they head into fall with schools closed. Community Roundtable events engaged hundreds of participants throughout the region. Educational Attainment Alliance joins the Washington State Cradle to Career Network – a coalition of cradle to career partnerships in Washington state focused on state-level policy advocacy.
2021, January: Educational Attainment Alliance is rebranded as Elevate: Building Strong Communities Through Education. Middle School Working Group is launched.
2021, spring: Elevate forms a partnership with Partners for Education (Berea College).
2021, summer: Steering Committee identifies second priority area: early learning and kindergarten readiness.
2021, fall: elevate coordinator resigns.
2021, winter: Early Learning Working Group is launched in collaboration with the Early Learning Coalition.
Diverse Organizations Coming Together to Solve a Complex Social Problem
Collective Impact fundamentally changes the way community partners work together by focusing on intentional, measurable collaboration.
The five conditions of Collective Impact are:
- shared understanding of the work (common agenda);
- common progress measures (shared measurement plan);
- coordinated plan of strategies/activities (mutually reinforcing activities);
- communication plan between partners (continuous communication);
- and supporting infrastructure of staff or a central organization (backbone support).
Connect with Us
Contact us to learn more about the Elevate initiative, getting involved
United Way of the Blue Mountains
13 1/2 East Main Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362