Oregon Stories

A New Normal to Reduce Chronic Absenteeism 

All Hands Raised recently featured the story below in an email out to partners.  

Meet “Sarah,” a fifth grader with a long history of chronic absenteeism. In September, Sarah was attending school less than half of the time. A Student Attendance Response Team noticed phone calls and meetings with Sarah’s parents were making no impact, so a member of the attendance team sat down to talk with her directly about the hopes she had for her future, so she could more fully understand how school is the pathway to the life she envisions for herself. As a result of the conversation, and positive reinforcement by her teacher and staff members, Sarah is now regularly attending school. In fact, since her meeting with a member of the attendance team, Sarah has attended school nearly 90% of school days.

All Hands Raised is helping our schools build attendance teams to make this example the “new normal.” With schools, social service providers and non-profits at the same table looking at data, we will begin to see more students, like Sarah, stay on course to achieve their future hopes and dreams.

Behind the data, there is an amazing person who has potential – in this case, it’s Sarah.

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