Events & Opportunities

Oregon’s 2016 Reach Higher Summit

Landing Page Reach Higher

Oregon students share reflections on challenges and opportunities related to planning for their future at the Reach Higher Oregon Summit. Thanks to the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative and to Americas Promise and their Grad Nation campaign for their partnership in putting on the Summit.


Building a Web of Support; Study shows ways to keep students in school and headed for graduation

Seven threats

Gerry Obrian: Seven Threats

The Klamath Promise has been striving to improve student achievement in Klamath County with the goal of 100 percent high school graduation. Key in the Klamath Promise’s mission is the phrase, “we all play a part.”

The part everyone plays can make the difference between a graduate’s success or failure. According to a report released last year from America’s Promise and Grad Nation, the more support a young person has, the more likely he or she is to succeed and graduate from high school.

“Don’t Quit on Me” was published in September 2015. It builds on the 2014 report, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts.” While the previous report focused on why students didn’t complete high school, the 2015 report examines what fellow students, families and communities can do to help students succeed.

“The more sources of support a young person has, the more likely he or she is to stay in school,” is one of the simplest statements of the Don’t Quit on Me’s conclusion. Even one person’s influence can bring a dropout back to the classroom. “This anchoring relationship allows the young person to access available community assets – and to leverage internal strengths. This trusted, stabilizing adult … provides a foundation that allows a young person to consider new possibilities for the future and engage a Web of Support.”

That “Web of Support” is what the study calls friends, adults, school and friends who, together, help students achieve.

“To put it simply,” the report reads, “some young people may be standing in a room that contains all the support they need, but they need someone else to turn on the lights so they can see what’s there and reach for it.”

Adverse Life Experiences

Don’t Quit on Me identifies the “hurdles” to graduation by a more technical term, “adverse life experiences.” These are detrimental things that can happen in a young person’s life, especially between the ages of 14 to 18, that keep him or her from graduating and likely from succeeding later in life.

Common adverse life experiences are: suspension or expulsion; becoming a teen parent; experiencing a major health issue, homelessness or moving many times, often called mobility.

The study listed these findings

n Students who stop going to high school have had twice as many adverse life experiences as students who don’t drop out.

n More than half of students who stop going to high school had five or more adverse life experiences, compared to 20 percent of those who graduated

n For each additional adverse life experience, the chances of not graduating from high school rises by 19 percent.

n Being suspended or expelled more than doubles the odds of dropping out.

Building the web

How to combat these adverse life experiences and detrimental statistics? Relationships, the study says.

This is where the Web of Support comes in.

One Don’t Quit on Me’s key findings states: Social supports from multiple sources buffer the effects of adverse life experiences for most young people. However, those who are facing the greatest adversity need more intensive support than family, school and friends can provide.

It may sound obvious, but the more support from more places better combats those bad experiences earlier in life. The ones that made a difference were people who “cared about me, treated me fairly, showed me how to do things, helped me solve problems, made sure I had what I needed for school,” students told Don’t Quit on Me.

“The young people we interviewed and surveyed showed us that the strength, number and nature of relationships in their lives are important factors that influence their engagement with school,” the report reads. “What we learned, in part, is that small interventions can make a big difference for most youth. You don’t need to be everyone to be someone for a young person.”

You are Invited: Statewide Town Halls on Education

You are Invited: Statewide Town Halls on Education

Beginning March 31st, our partner agency, the Oregon Department of Education will be hosting one of eleven community forums across the state to Reimagine Education in Oregon. 

 The conversations are designed to help the State receive community input to develop a framework for a State Plan required by the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA).  ESSA was passed by Congress earlier this year and replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The legislation affords states greater flexibility to locally define improvement, accountability, and assessment systems for K-12 schools.

 As they begin to craft a plan, the Department wants to hear from students, families, educators and community leaders about what they value most within a system of education.

For more information about upcoming Town Halls, click here.

To learn more about ESSA click here

High Desert starts model to promote innovation

High Desert starts model to promote innovation

By Abby Spegman / The Bulletin / Published Mar 4, 2016

Like all startup stories, this one begins with an idea.

Jennifer Faircloth is an occupational therapist with High Desert Education Service District. She works with children 5 and younger with disabilities or developmental delays to help them get ready for school, either one-on-one in their homes or at their preschools.

“The stress levels for parents with kids with special needs are much higher,” Fairchild said. She wondered: What if there was a class for parents to help manage their stress and learn strategies to work through frustrations and help their children? If the parent felt more supported, wouldn’t that benefit the child?

“The stress levels for parents with kids with special needs are much higher,” Fairchild said. She wondered: What if there was a class for parents to help manage their stress and learn strategies to work through frustrations and help their children? If the parent felt more supported, wouldn’t that benefit the child?

Faircloth is one of the first to participate in i4 — for Ignite, Investigate, Innovate, Incubate — a new process at High Desert where staff members can pitch ideas and compete for funding.

It’s the show “Shark Tank,” but for educational purposes.

“These educators are learning about what it means to be entrepreneurial, to see a problem and solve it,” said Anna Higgins, director of High Desert’s new innovation department that launched last year. “What does the private sector already know about this type of work … and what can we learn that we can bridge back to education?”

High Desert is a publicly funded agency that provides various services to Central Oregon school districts, from legal and financial advice to special education and career and technical education support.

Participants in i4 get help refining their ideas at workshops with local entrepreneurs before pitching to a five-person panel, including High Desert leaders and people from the private sector. At the end of a workshop in January, a large whiteboard behind the conference table was covered with notes and tips and takeaways: “what’s the ask,” “too broad?” “make it feel black + white” and “how much??”

Read complete article

Invitation to participate in Education Focus Groups

Invitation to participate in Education Focus Groups

CoActive Connections is launching the Poverty Education for Oregonians Project.

We are working to develop specific curriculum modules for educators as an important piece of this project. We are currently seeking education professionals, administrators and teachers from across Oregon to participate in online focus groups, March 10, 2016, and March 15, 2016, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm for each. By sharing your thoughts, experiences and opinions you will inform and expand our education focused curriculum on poverty awareness and improve outcomes statewide.

The text based online discussion will be with approximately a dozen other participants and moderated by a professional researcher. Your identity and participation will be anonymous.

To inform the curriculum, we are looking for a wide and diverse representation of the education experience across Oregon. If you are interested in participating, a survey will be sent to you once we receive your contact information submitted on this form.

Selected participants will receive another email from CoActive Connections within the week with additional instructions. You will be invited to participate in a 90-minute online discussion, for which you will receive $75.00 for your valuable time and opinions.

Fill out and submit application HERE

PRESS RELEASE: March 1st deadline for Oregon Promise and OSAC scholarship application


FEBRUARY 22, 2016
Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist | Office: 503-378-6769 | Cell: 971-701-4032
Lori Ellis, ASPIRE and Outreach Administrator, Office of Student Access and Completion | | 541-687-7471

March 1st deadline for Oregon Promise and OSAC scholarship application
Students are encouraged to learn more and apply at

Eugene, Oregon | Attention students and families, school leaders, and counselors! Applications are due on March 1 for the Oregon Promise program and over 500 private scholarships administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC). OSAC awards more than $80 million dollars each year in grants and privately funded scholarships to help students meet their college expenses. Students can go to or the direct links below to learn more about these financial aid opportunities.

Oregon Promise: The Oregon Promise offers graduating Oregon high school seniors and eligible GED recipients an opportunity to have some or all of their community college tuition covered. Students can learn more and apply at This program is available to high school students graduating in spring 2016. Students must have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA, have resided in Oregon for at least 12 months prior to community college enrollment, and enroll at least half time in community college in fall 2016. To apply, students must complete the Oregon Promise application by March 1 at 5:00 p.m., submit their transcript, and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon State Aid Application (ORSAA). Students must accept all state and federal grants they are awarded to qualify for the Oregon Promise.

Scholarship Opportunities: More than 500 privately funded scholarship opportunities are available to Oregon students with a wide range of interests and needs. Students should apply online at and complete the OSAC scholarship application by March 1 at 5:00 p.m. Students may apply for multiple scholarships with one application and there is no cost to apply.

Completing the FAFSA and its alternative: Students are also strongly encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the Oregon Student Aid Application (ORSAA) as soon as possible. Information from the FAFSA or the ORSAA is used to determine eligibility for the Oregon Promise and the Oregon Opportunity Grant. Information from the FAFSA is also used to determine eligibility for federal aid, such as the Pell Grant.

The Office of Student Access and Completion is committed to expanding opportunities to Oregonians to complete their higher education and career training goals through information, mentoring, and financial aid.

The HECC is dedicated to fostering and sustaining the best, most rewarding pathways to opportunity and success for all Oregonians through an accessible, affordable and coordinated network for educational achievement beyond high school. For more information, go to

Oregon Promise deadline fast approaching

The window for the class of 2016’s shot at two years of tuition-free community college is closing. The March 1 deadline for the Oregon Promise application period is fast approaching.

What is the Oregon Promise?

“The Oregon Promise is a big deal because it is making college an affordable option for every high school graduate in Oregon,” said Armando Ojeda, pathways advisor at Mazama High School.

Trail Blazers Scholarships Available for High School Seniors

Applications for the Trail Blazers Foundation College Scholarships sponsored by Wells Fargo are now being accepted. High school seniors in Oregon and Clark County, Washington who have a 3.0 GPA or higher and want to continue with a 4-year, 2-year, or trade school education can apply for $5,000 to begin school in the Fall. Six winners will be awarded.

The deadline is March 4. Apply at Winners will also be honored at a Blazer game this Spring.

ASPIRE Calls for Volunteer Mentors to Help Youth Achieve College and Career Goals


January 14, 2016
Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist, Higher Education Coordinating Commission | | 971-701-4032
Lori Ellis, ASPIRE and Outreach Administrator, Office of Student Access and Completion | |541-687-7471

ASPIRE Calls for Volunteer Mentors to Help Youth Achieve College and Career Goals
Celebrate National Mentoring Month by Choosing to Volunteer with Oregon ASPIRE

Eugene, OR | January is National Mentoring Month, and the Oregon ASPIRE Program invites Oregonians to volunteer to mentor middle and high school students in communities across the state in achieving their college and career goals. The call for action is part of a national initiative lead by MENTOR, the National Mentoring Partnership encouraging people from all over the nation to get involved in their own communities by volunteering and mentoring with youth. Administered by the Office of Student Access and Completion within the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, ASPIRE offers training and opportunities for adult Oregonians to become youth mentors at over 150 sites across the state.

ASPIRE trains supportive adult volunteers to mentor middle and high school students in developing plans to help them achieve their goals and dreams beyond high school. The program is located at schools in both rural and metropolitan communities, with the population of participating students at each site ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. Students receive information about college and career options, college admission, and financial aid from trained and supportive ASPIRE volunteer mentors who work one-on-one with them throughout the year. Beginning with just four pilot schools in 1998, ASPIRE has expanded to over 150 sites across Oregon since June 2015, with tremendous volunteer support.

Lori Ellis the ASPIRE Outreach Administrator said, “This program is fundamentally run on the sheer power of community member volunteers. There are so many students who really benefit from having one-on-one conversations about what they want to do after high school. It helps them put their future paths into perspective for them, so that they can see what it will take to get them to where they want to go. ASPIRE is a key cornerstone to these students having those kinds of conversations.”

The ASPIRE mentor position attracts a broad spectrum of adult volunteers, including parents or guardians of students at ASPIRE sites, community members, professionals and more. Some volunteers are the first in their family to attend college and want to share their knowledge. Some are retired community members seeking a way to give back in their free time. With a wide variety of backgrounds, all volunteers have one thing in common: a deep commitment to helping young Oregonians pursue and achieve successful futures.

How to Volunteer with ASPIRE

  • Start by exploring the “Become a Volunteer” tab on the Oregon ASPIRE website at:
  • On this site, you can find the ASPIRE site nearest you and the application process.

Questions on volunteering? For more information, contact Vickie Potoski at the Office of Student Access and Completion at 541.687.7307, or email Vickie at

Announcing A New Round of Grants for the Nike School Innovation Fund

Dear Oregon Educators –

The deadline for 2016 grant applications is January 15.
If you haven’t already, we encourage you to apply for grants from the Nike School Innovation Fund’s College and Career Readiness Program. The grants will support schools in implementing or expanding AVID’s rigorous teaching strategies that can help all students graduate with the skills to succeed.
We are anticipating adding 10 new schools for AVID implementation in Fall 2016, and all Oregon high schools are encouraged to APPLY. The 50 grantees for the 2015-16 school year can also RENEW for year-two funding.
More information can be found on the Nike School Innovation Fund website and in the attached Program Summary.