Dozens of community leaders gathered on November 9 to officially launch Successful Families 2020, a community partnership designed to improve graduation rates and college preparedness for kids of color in our region.

The two-year research and advocacy project, spearheaded by United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, in partnership with Reynolds School District and five local nonprofits, focuses on improving outcomes for students at H.B. Lee Middle School, Reynolds Middle School and Reynolds High school.

Between 62-81% of students at the three schools are labeled as economically disadvantaged. Kids of color make up between 60-75% of the student populations, making it vital that the organizations involved bring strong culturally-specific program expertise. Nonprofit partners include the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Latino Network, Metropolitan Family Service, Native American Youth & Family Center and Self Enhancement, Inc.

"We know that all too often students and families of color are getting lost in the system,” said Carmen Rubio, Executive Director at Latino Network. “Being part of Successful Families 2020 means that together we’ll change the outcomes for our students of color so that every student is supported in school and prepared for college and career."

The goal of the project is to identify the policies and practices that have the greatest impact on academic achievement for students of color, then use them to build an evidence-based blueprint for success. The group’s nonprofit leaders agree that collaborating with teachers is key.

“School districts get programs and services thrown at them all the time,” said United Way President and CEO Keith Thomajan. “For Successful Families 2020 to work, we need to operate as a group of willing allies - all with unique assets and perspectives - who are co-creating solutions with a hard-working group of educators.”

Judy Strand, CEO of Metropolitan Family Service, believes each organization has an important role to play within Successful Families 2020. “It was so important to hear the perspective and experience of each organization as we strive together to meet the needs of students and their families in the Reynolds School District. There's a strong shared commitment to the community we all serve. It is exciting to think of what we can do with the combined energy of our group.”

Funding for the Reynolds Partnership, including research and evaluation, comes from United Way. Multnomah County also provides significant funding to support direct services of the partner organizations in the three schools.

Learn more about Successful Families 2020

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