Oregon’s FAFSA Plus+ outreach effort expanding, seeking applicants


May 31, 2016
Contact: Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist | 971-701-4032 |
Source: Lori Ellis, ASPIRE & Outreach Administrator, OSAC, HECC | 541-687-7471 |

Oregon’s FAFSA Plus+ outreach effort expanding, seeking applicants

Eugene, Oregon | The Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) is pleased to announce that the HECC Office of Student Access and Completion (OSAC) is expanding its FAFSA Plus+ program, a successful initiative to increase completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) among high school seniors. OSAC is expanding the program with a call for applications among high schools and partners statewide.

The FAFSA Plus+ program currently operates at more than 110 schools and sites across the state, providing schools with key data and resources they need to target outreach efforts and proactively support students in completing the FAFSA. Educators at FAFSA Plus+ sites are able to see exactly which students have completed the FAFSA, so that volunteers and staff can provide targeted assistance. Sites also offer personalized services and events, such as College Goal Oregon, financial aid nights, senior parent nights, financial literary and scholarship resources, parent communications, and more. In the words of one FAFSA Plus+ site representative, Yvonne VonHolle of Logos Public Charter School, “The FAFSA Plus+ report gave our staff [and] administration an edge we didn’t have before.”

Schools and partners interested in improving their FAFSA completion rates are invited to join this exciting effort. OSAC is currently accepting applications for new FAFSA Plus+ sites, and encourages school districts, high schools, TRIO programs, Tribal Education Agencies, Indian Organizations, and community-based organizations to complete the non-competitive application here.

The FAFSA Plus+ program expansion was funded by legislative investments in Senate Bill 5701 (2016), after recommendations from a work group for Senate Bill 418 (2015). In addition, this month, Oregon was awarded a FAFSA Completion Challenge Grant of $52,000 from the National College Access Network (NCAN) which will allow OSAC to launch a targeted FAFSA completion effort in the Portland metropolitan area in partnership with All Hands Raised, the College Place, and other Portland partners.

In 2016, Oregon leads the nation in increasing the number of high school seniors who completed the FAFSA, but Oregon’s rate of completion remains slightly below the national average, underscoring the importance of these efforts. Bob Brew, director of OSAC, said “We look forward to building on the exciting momentum and success we are seeing right in Oregon to further increase FAFSA completion rates, and to help more Oregon students access the benefits they need to succeed in their college goals.”

HECC Releases 2016-20 Strategic Plan for Higher Education


June 9, 2016 
Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist | Office: 503-378-6769 | Cell: 971-701-4032

HECC Releases 2016-20 Strategic Plan for Higher Education

Salem, Oregon  | Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) has formally released the 2016-20 Strategic Plan for higher education after a year of work and collaboration. The plan provides a foundation and scaffolding for preparing more Oregonians with the degrees, certificates, and training they need to succeed in their goals and careers.

While higher education in Oregon is a complex network of institutions and providers that collectively award more than 45,000 degrees and certificates per year, HECC is the only state entity responsible for ensuring pathways to higher educational success for Oregonians statewide, and serves as a convener of the groups and institutions working across the public and private higher education arena.

Neil Bryant, Chair of the HECC, said, “This plan addresses the complexity of the higher education system, the myriad obstacles student currently face, and the specific opportunities and levers the HECC has to change them. It is both a realistic and deeply optimistic plan for us to work together as a state so that all Oregonians meet their highest education and career potential, and have the opportunity to prosper in a global economy.”

The plan defines six key priorities that will guide higher education funding and policy decisions within the HECC authority, including:

  • Goal-setting: sharpening state higher education goals in specific areas, including for working-age adults, and better reporting our progress towards meeting them.
  • Public College and University Funding: supporting sustainable state funding linked to student success.
  • Pathways: simplifying and aligning student pathways from cradle to career.
  • Student Support: enhancing student success, safety, and completion.
  • College Affordability: limiting student costs for attending college in Oregon.
  • Economic and Community Impact: contributing to prosperous workforce, economy, and communities.

Oregon has made progress toward the state’s 40-40-20 goal, yet not all of the state’s populations have experienced equally the benefits of improving completion rates. The HECC will take a lead role in convening partners to further align programming and supports to close achievement and opportunity gaps for low-income students, students of color, and recent high school graduates—and to improve connections between Oregon’s education and workforce systems.

Ben Cannon, Executive Director of the HECC, said, “I am grateful to the campus leaders, students, business, community, agency staff, and government partners who provided valuable input and expertise during our year-long development of this critical plan for the State of Oregon, and especially to the commissioners for their careful thought and vision. Throughout this process, we have seen a profound and shared commitment to educational excellence, opportunity, equity, and to real and sustainable progress, and I am deeply heartened for the future toward which we are navigating.”

The strategic plan is anchored by the Commission’s Equity Lens, which commits the HECC to ensuring that its policy and resource allocation decisions advance equity. It also builds on the Commission’sStrategic Plan 2014-15, which set a foundation for the Commission’s efforts to “steer and cheer” the higher education enterprise. The plan will provide the framework for policy and funding decisions through 2020, and HECC staff have already started developing implementation plans.

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

State Releases Absenteeism Report Featuring Student and Family Perspectives

May 25, 2016

Media Contact:
Lindsay Moussa, 503-378-2761

State Releases Absenteeism Report Featuring Student and Family Perspectives
Chief Education Officer convenes legislators and cross-sector leaders to discuss shared response to findings 

(Salem, OR)–Today, the Chief Education Office released a report on chronic absenteeism that examines barriers to regular school attendance from the perspective of students and families. The report, created in collaboration with Portland State University and the Coalition of Communities of Color, gathered data through 44 focus groups in seven communities across the State.

The qualitative study resulted in the identification of two overarching themes: a need for culturally responsive practices (including those connected to relationships and school/classroom opportunities), and the importance of addressing systemic barriers (defined as a set of circumstances that affect school and families). In addition to general themes across communities, the study includes a focused analysis of two student groups most affected by chronic absenteeism, students with disabilities and Native American students. Collectively, the themes informed a set of six recommendations for the State and local communities across Oregon.

“This study offers a powerful snapshot of the experiences of students and families in our schools that have contributed to high absenteeism rates,” said Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps. “The voices in this report, taken in concert with existing research, call us to come together to develop cross-sector solutions to engage students in school, and holistically support families.”

The report is unique to the field and the State. Unlike existing state and national reports, which primarily focus on best practices within districts to improve attendance rates, this report focuses on using student and family voices to identify the root causes that contribute to students being regularly absent. The study intentionally oversampled populations who are most likely to be disengaged from school including tribal students, students with disabilities, communities of color, and students who speak English as a second language.

Chief Education Officer Lindsey Capps will host a report briefing and discussion today to bring leaders together to reflect on how the student and family perspectives offer a lens to inform existing and future efforts to reduce absenteeism, and engage students in their learning. Attendees will include: legislative leaders, education agency leaders and partners, and cross-sector agency leaders representing health and human services.

Chronic absenteeism is linked to critical markers of success in school. Absenteeism as early as sixth grade decreases high school graduation likelihood, and generally chronic absenteeism is also predictive of post-secondary enrollment, and increased involvement with the juvenile justice system. Beyond education, absenteeism also has implications for individuals’ long-term health and wellbeing. Children who do not graduate high school have greater health risks as adults.

Read the Executive Summary.
Read the full report.


New Preschool Program Slated to Start this Fall

ONTARIO — The Eastern Oregon Early Learning Hub has received an intent to award from the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division, opening a chance for the hub to provide child care and education programs for preschoolers who might not otherwise get the opportunity.

The preschool model is called Preschool Promise, enacted by the Oregon Legislature in 2015 and designed to leverage high quality, local and culturally relevant child care and education to those in need.

“What we’re doing with this is focusing in on kids that are not connected to quality preschool programs,” said Kelly Poe, the Eastern Oregon Early Learning Hub director.

The program is still under negotiation, but Poe said it will cost in the neighborhood of $550,000 and should begin in September in Malheur and Baker County, with the potential for classes in Wallowa County.

The preschool model is using what is known as a “mixed delivery” approach, which uses different child-care providers to host the preschool education.

Poe said the early learning hub hopes to collaborate with the Ontario, Nyssa and Vale school districts; Malheur Education Service District; the Oregon Child Development Center; and Malheur County Child Development Center.

Much like the Malheur County Child Development Center’s Head Start Program, which assists children from low-income families with prekindergarten readiness, Preschool Promise will use Creative Curriculum, “which focuses on the idea that children learn by doing,” the Malheur County Child Development Center website states.

Poe estimates approximately 54 students will be served. Preschool Promise targets children who are either on a Head Start program waiting list, whose families don’t qualify for Head Start, or who don’t have access to preschool programs. It is also aimed at families earning up to the 200 percent of the federal poverty line, estimated at $48,600 for a family of four.

“I’m very excited about the opportunities we will be able to provide children,” said Theresa Martinez, the Malheur ESD early learning coordinator. Martinez will oversee the implementation and coordination of the Preschool Promise classrooms, a release from the Eastern Oregon Early Learning Hub states.

Focuses in Nyssa and Vale specifically, Poe said, have yielded positive discussions about the importance of prekindergarten childhood development in addition to reaching children who haven’t been reached before.

“We’re thinking about trying to meet families where they are located,” Poe said. “We want to find kids in outlying areas.”

Oregon Robotics Teams Win Big at FTC World Championship

Submitted by the Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program

St. Louis, Missouri, May 1, 2016: The Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program (ORTOP) is pleased to announce that Oregon teams did well at the FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship held at the Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri, from April 27-30, 2016.  7 Oregon FIRST Tech Challenge teams made up of middle and high school were among 128 teams from 16 participating countries. During the winter season each team designed and built a custom robot to compete in this year’s challenge called RES-Q.  Hot Wired from Westview High School, Sunset High School and Spark Technology Education took 1st place Inspire Award, the program’s most prestigious and highest honor.  This marks the first time an Oregon team has won.




To read the Beaverton Valley Times article on this, click here.



Governor’s Council on Educator Advancement Holds Second Meeting

Council on Educator Advancement takes a break from reviewing educator responses on 2016 TELL Survey to take group photo.

Council on Ed Advancement Photo

Science Lab at the Coast and 3D Arts in Lane County Round out #STEMWeekOregon

We are in the last days of #STEMWeekOregon and there are still many activities happening around the state.

In Newport in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, the Hatfield Marine Science Center is hosting hands-on marine science labs and field classes for registered K-12 groups.

Photo from @OregonSeaGrant

As part of Lane County STEM Hub’s activities, Eugene Maker Space will host their spring 2016 open house on the 7th and provide opportunities for attendees to use 3D printers, laser cutters and engravers, and woodworking tools to get creative.

Photo of student 3D printing art from @jkjohnsonbell

There is still time for you to share YOUR STEM activity by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

Community partners seek to help open doors

Published on May 4, 2016 8:35AM

A number of community partners seek to ease access of obtaining services through ‘No Wrong Door’ collaboration.

A number of community partners seek to ease access of obtaining services through ‘No Wrong Door’ collaboration.

The path to finding the appropriate resources for education, child care, nutrition or housing services can sometimes be a bewildering jumble of doors.

A network of community partners in Morrow, Umatilla and Union counties is opening the door for families who are trying to navigate through the process of seeking information and assistance. Through the implementation of a “No Wrong Door” system, families will be able to access community resources from any starting point. The system ensures any of the doors they choose will be the right one.

A person seeking assistance will no longer need to know what services they may qualify for in order to access the supports they need. By completing a short application, people will be linked to a recruiter who is knowledgeable of all child and family services including, but not limited to, preschool opportunities, parenting education, child care, health and human services, housing and transportation.

By accessing the No Wrong Door icon on any partner agency’s website or visiting the office of a community partner participating in the No Wrong Door process, a family will be contacted within two business days. After the initial contact, appropriate services will then be determined as quickly as possible.

Partners in the project include the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub, Umatilla County Public Health, Umatilla-Morrow Head Start, InterMountain Education Service District, WIC, Child Care Resource and Referral, Healthy Families Oregon, the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative, Nurse-Family Partnership, Pioneer Relief Nursery, Oregon Child Development Coalition, Eastern Oregon Head Start and Morrow County Public Health.

“The program will allow families to access community resources or to allow those assisting a family in accessing resources to do so efficiently and effectively,” said Cade Burnette, co-coordinator of the Blue Mountain Early Learning Hub.

The approach is not intended to replace the intake process of specific agencies that are already in place, Burnette said, but rather to act as a safety net to ensure all families have easy access to the resources that they may be eligible for.

For more information, call Burnette at 541-564-6878.

Senator Wyden visits Beaverton High School for STEM Week and STEMapalooza is tonight in Tigard

Senator Wyden visited with classrooms and the robotics team at Beaverton High School , one of the district’s ‘future ready’ pilot programs, for STEM Week.

roverbottle guitarwyden at table

In Tigard,  today is STEMapalooza in the South Metro STEM Hub! At Figets2Widgets, students’ STEM work from the region in is being showcased in this science fair-style event.

Tag your activities for STEM week by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.

#STEMWeekOregon Participants Build Roller Coasters and Create Wetlands

#STEMWeekOregon is going strong!

In the Frontier STEM Hub, Alameda Elementary School students are participating in H2O Explorations, water safety, and going on a virtual field trip. Meanwhile Vale High School students are presenting a self-created rollercoaster model to an Idaho theme park, while other students practice crash test reconstruction with the Malheur County Sheriffs Department and Oregon State Police.

In Central STEM Hub at the Cove Palisades Park, local students are creating wetlands, a monarch butterfly weigh station, and restoring a paddle wheel to create electricity for the park!

Tag your activities for STEM week by posting with #STEMWeekOregon.