All Hands Raised for childhood education (Portland Business Journal, October 9, 2015) by Dan Ryan

Lifting Student Achievement Demands Long-Term Partnerships

By Dan Ryan

Read the story below and here.

In 2009, local business leaders made it clear they did not see how the good work happening in our schools was translating into meaningful gains for out kids.

At the time, I commonly heard sentiments like, “I receive stacks of proposals that all sound compelling and yet clearly we can’t fund all of them. More importantly, what specific impact would a donation really have?” or “How do I know that the non-profits are working together? We need a system to connect the dots so our corporate philanthropic investments can have more of an impact.”

This feeling of fragmentation was compounded by compelling research from the Coalition of Communities of Color, which made it crystal clear we were (and are) failing our kids of color at unacceptable rates. This led a group of community leaders to prioritize equity and efficiency as the key drivers in building a new “cradle to career” system in Multnomah County.

This required dissolving similar entities so leaders could belong to a single table where racial educational equity would be the primary focus. Thus a 15-year-old organization — the Portland Public Schools Foundation — was reoriented and re-established as All Hands Raised to serve Multnomah County’s urban core, which includes six school districts.

Today — three county chairs, two mayors, and eight superintendents later — that table remains intact, in large part due to the leadership of our local corporate CEOs and their continued commitment to improve educational outcomes for all children and youth.

The current challenge of the All Hands Raised Partnership is to sustain the cross-sector and cross-organization work teams focused on key transition points. These teams are focusing on big picture systemic issues, while at the same time moving deeper into aligning practices on the ground in specific schools and neighborhoods using measurable results as the guide.

This means partnering across our community, and especially with communities of color, to improve kindergarten readiness; K-12 attendance; school policies and practices aimed at reducing the number of students of color who are suspended or expelled; ninth grade credit attainment; the number of students accessing financial aid for college; and the pathways to careers in construction and manufacturing. Building the work groups around these measures and identifying our focus areas is a tremendous accomplishment, yet keeping people at the table as we move deeper into implementation is new territory for this community.

Simply put, can Portland, a city known for meetings and visions and “Portland polite,” stay at the table as we study, measure and scale effective practices? Can we commit to the kids, and not to our own programs? Can we let go of investments that feel good, or sound good at our dinner parties if they have little impact?

Our disciplined approach to improve practices comes from the business sector. Investors support the ‘product’ from research and development to the market with the expectation of profits, and make necessary course corrections based on measurements to ensure a culture of efficiency. Imagine how focused and committed we will need to be to apply this work ethic to the much more complex aims of improving conditions and outcomes for the children and youth in our community.

Unfortunately, we have become comfortable with three-year cycles of fits and starts fueled by new policies, mandates and grants that fail to see implementation to the depths necessary to ignite a change in practice and culture that will sustain better results for our kids. We can expect this work to be a long-term, exciting and difficult grind.

Our schools can’t do this alone. We will continue to need the courage, wisdom, leadership and investment of the business community to help us make a cultural shift from trying hard to getting results. There is no long-term economic plan more critical than that.

Dan Ryan has served as CEO of All Hands Raised since 2008. All Hands Raised brings together six Multnomah County school districts with leaders from the county, city, nonprofits, higher education and businesses to help organizations come together collectively to improve educational outcomes for all of our children and youth from birth to career.


House Bill 2968 Legislative Report

Link to Report

Oregon STEM Leaders Selected to Convene in D.C. and Meet White House Officials

Oregon STEM Leaders Selected to Convene in D.C. and Meet with White House Officials

Governor Brown is committed to ensuring that our systems of learning motivate, inspire and connect students with real-world application. In the recent session, she worked closely with the Legislature to pass a near doubling of investments in STEM/CTE (Science,Technology, Engineering, Mathematics/Career Technical Education) opportunities for students. A portion of these investments went to support STEM Hubs, cross-sector collaboratives that bring together schools, communities, higher education partners and industry to smooth pathways for students to careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Oregon was recently recognized as one of 27 Communities of Practice through a national STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative. This week, Oregon STEM leaders joined 26 other selected local and regional STEM networks in Washington D.C to exchange strategies for building equitable, real-world STEM learning opportunities for students. The education, business and community leaders who participated also met with White House officials to discuss equitable STEM education and federal STEM policy.

The 27 STEM Learning Ecosystems that gathered in Washington, D.C. represent the inaugural group selected by the STEM Funders Network for support as part of a larger commitment that will grow to support 100 ecosystems in its first three years.

“The President has called for all of us to think of creative and effective ways of getting all of our students engaged in STEM education,” noted John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It’s heartening to see so many communities working locally and together in response to the President’s call to action.”

Columbia Gorge RAC: Building Bridges Strategic Framework Developments

Greetings RAC community,

It’s a pleasure to share with you below a brief summary from the Columbia Gorge RAC: Building Bridges: Columbia Gorge Education & Workforce Collaborative, and their recent development of a strategic framework and governance model.  In our shared efforts across the state, we thought you would enjoying seeing the growth and development of a fellow RAC.

Congratulations to the community leaders and partners on their continued commitment and collective focus, and best to you all!


Oregon Solutions Network


The need for a coordinated education and training network in the Columbia Gorge became apparent in 2012 when a series of bi-state forums identified strategies for economic growth. Engaging students across the P-20 spectrum and providing continuing education for a skilled workforce were critical goals identified by a broad cross-section of public agencies, educators and industry executives.  However, the RAC found it difficult to sustain momentum and clear direction without a governance model that brought everyone to the table in a meaningful way.

“Building Bridges: Columbia Gorge Education & Workforce Collaborative” formalizes those partnerships through a governance model drafted by stakeholders from industry, early learning, K-12 districts, community colleges, universities, and workforce training providers with support from the Oregon Governor’s office, OEIB and Oregon Solutions Network. Representation by both land-grant universities and an integrated workforce system, together with P-20 partners from the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia Gorge, aligns the region with cross-sector federal goals established by the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act.

The strategic framework establishes four Focus Teams: Early School Success (“Team LEARN”), College & Career Readiness (“Team LIVE”), Access to Higher Education (“Team THRIVE”), and Growing an Economic Ecosystem (“Team CONNECT”). Each team comprises education sectors specific to its role but also represents other sectors (healthcare, social services, industry, community-based organizations) in keeping with the Collective Impact model.

Each Focus Team has a targeted mission, ranging from PK-kindergarten transition and early school success to college readiness, continuing education, and alignment with housing, transportation and business recruitment strategies. Those missions drive outcome-based, measurable initiatives for children, families and workforce in the Columbia Gorge, where a fast-growing economy needs skilled employees in aerospace, advanced composites and robotics as well as traditional sectors such as timber and agriculture.
Heidi East McGowan MPH, MBA
Phone:  541.929.7501
Fax:  503.345.3404

Community Engagement in Rural Areas

Community Engagement in Rural Areas
Community Engagement so often relies on citizens feeling an affinity and commitment towards their local area or an issue, but what is unique about engaging community in a rural area? What methodologies can be used to increase participation? How can we ensure that all voices are heard? In rural areas it is often harder to focus on one shared issue and to unite a community when individuals are geographically dispersed and each encounters their own nuanced lifestyle and related issues.
From February 10-12, 2015, the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) hosted their annual conference which included a session co-hosted by the Rural Ontario Institute (ROI) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) entitled “Rural & Small Communities – Evolving the Competitive Edge: Rural Community Engagement.” I was invited to speak about Community Engagement and share ideas and tactics for deepening community engagement. Session participants then joined roundtable discussions to share success stories, resources and tools; discuss barriers to engagement; and to brainstorm solutions. Students from the University of Waterloo’s Local Economic Development (LED) program volunteered to facilitate the discussion and take detailed notes, resulting in a report entitled Evolving the Competitive Edge: Rural Community Engagement which provides an overview of the session and synthesis of the key findings and outcomes produced through the discussion.

What are the Barriers to Rural Community Engagement?
Through the roundtable discussions, participants revealed barriers to successful community engagement within rural communities. These challenges can be found during the initial consultation phase, as well as in subsequent phases as a project or initiative moves towards implementation.
Barriers identified by participants included:
Gaining initial traction can prove difficult if there is little political will.
Public officials may see community engagement as foolhardy and may feel that they are elected to speak for their constituents. This view was most prevalent in communities where elected officials have been in office for a long time.
Tensions may exist between newcomers, seasonal residents and established residents and reconciling the views of these distinct groups might prove difficult.
In some rural communities, residents without deep local roots were viewed as outsiders
In communities considered ‘bedroom communities’, the level of interest among residents is often diminished because of the lack of a personal connection with their place of residence.
Rural communities often face unique logistical challenges organizing community engagement sessions, particularly given the large geographical areas they cover. Lack of public transit can also be a barrier to participation.
Municipal leaders may struggle with turning feedback into action.
It may be necessary to manage public expectations about what is possible within financial and regulatory constraints.
Municipal leaders and community members are often risk averse to participating in community engagement efforts.
Being aware of these potential barriers is helpful. It is easier not to get stuck when you can foresee the potential tough points and assign resources and efforts accordingly. Even being in a room with others who had experienced similar barriers was a worthwhile step in sharing, commiserating together and generating options for effectively moving forward.

What Does Successful Rural Community Engagement Look Like?
Participants were asked to think of organizations or groups within their communities who are demonstrating exceptional leadership in community engagement, and to share what success looks like.
Principles for success include:
Always use multiple channels for engagement to capture a diversity of perspectives and reach all corners of your community. The mechanisms for outreach and engagement have expanded rather than changed, so social media and other technologies need to act as a complement to rather than a replacement for traditional outreach and engagement techniques, especially in rural areas.
Successful community engagement requires organizational and political leadership. Having political leaders visibly involved in the engagement process helps dispel the common perception that politicians may withhold information and allows for the engagement to be more sincere, open and transparent. Local officials are also able to set clear objectives and goals to help guide public participation and engagement that is aligned with other activities.
Successful community engagement also requires public leadership. Utilizing local social capital is vitally important, and allowing citizens to take on such roles not only increases the level of public impact, but frees up local staff to take on other projects.

Feedback and follow-through are critical.
The public wants to know that their voices mean something and that the time they have invested has made a difference and has had an impact. Participants should know what stage of the planning process they are stepping into so they can provide appropriate input. This also helps to manage expectations around how much the community can affect the outcome.
Smaller scale efforts can often achieve greater results since citizens or key stakeholders may only have an interest in certain aspects of a project. Use targeted, smaller scale events, surveys, and meetings that all connect into a larger project or issue.
Read the full report to learn more about the unique barriers, successes, and tools for community engagement in rural communities and be inspired by two case studies of successful rural community engagement initiatives.

Learn more:
Read the report – Evolving the Competitive Edge: Rural Community Engagement
Attend Community Engagement: Technologies for Change a one-day workshop with Lisa Attygalle on May 28th in Red Deer, AB.
Find other resources for small and rural communities at

Conference: DATA ON PURPOSE – Telling Great Stories With Data

Stanford Social Innovation Review presents
DATA ON PURPOSE – Telling Great Stories With Data
February 9-10, 2016



We had such success with our first month of mini-grants in July that we have decided to continue offering them. From here on out, the first Monday of every month will be a Mini-grant Monday!

Here are the rules:What are Mini-grant Mondays?
On the first Monday of every month, Northwest Health Foundation will announce the winner of a mini-grant worth $100 on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

How can my organization enter?

Follow Northwest Health Foundation on Facebook and/or Twitter. All you have to do to enter is either (1) tell us what your organization will use the money for by commenting on our monthly Mini-grant Monday Facebook post, or (2) tell us what your organization will use the money for by tweeting to @northwesthealth with the hashtag #minigrantmonday.
We will announce our winners at the end of the day on the first Monday of every month.

What can my organization do with the money?
Anything you want! You could pay for transportation to an event or advocacy day at the capitol. You could compensate community members for time spent participating in a focus group or advisory board. You could offer childcare at a community organizing meeting or event. You could buy flip charts, colored markers or other office supplies. Or…you tell us. The sky is the limit! (And nonprofit tax laws, of course.)

Check out the first four winners for inspiration.

Race, Place, and Poverty

This presentation, originally given at the 2015 Regional Achievement Collaborative Summit, provides Oregon data to unpack the intersection of race, place, and poverty.

Download PDF

Race, Place, and Poverty

This presentation, originally given at the 2015 Regional Achievement Collaborative Summit, provides Oregon data to unpack the intersection of race, place, and poverty.

Download PDF

Oregon’s STEM Ecosystem Nationally Recognized

The STEM Funders Network announced last week that Oregon’s Statewide Regional STEM Hub Network will be joining a select cohort of communities from across the country to launch the national STEM Ecosystems Initiative. This project, built on over a decade of research into successful STEM collaborations seeks to nurture and scale effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities for all young people. Oregon is the only statewide initiative chosen, and our selection is recognition of the progress that we’ve made in developing strong STEM cross-sector community partnerships at the regional and state level.

Launched in Denver at the Clinton Global Initiative, the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative will form a national Community of Practice with expert coaching and support from leaders such as superintendents, scientists, and industry. The first gathering of this Community of Practice will be hosted at the White House in November.

“These innovative communities are providing STEM learning opportunities for millions of young people both in- and out-of-school,” said SFN co-chairs Gerald Solomon, executive director, Samueli Foundation, and Ron Ottinger, executive director, Noyce Foundation. “It is an initiative to design the kind of infrastructure that ensures that STEM learning is truly ‘everywhere’ and is a top priority for communities supporting youth to develop the skills and knowledge they need for success in a global workforce.”

Led by the Chief Education Office, Oregon’s STEM Investment Council, our Regional STEM Hubs, and numerous partners, we will continue to focus on coupling STEM education policy, research, and practice to improve educational outcomes for our students in service to the health and prosperity of our communities.