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Education Changes Everything

Those of us who grew up in Chehalis in a different time had the kind of opportunities that today’s kids in Chehalis do not have. Right now, over 50% of Chehalis students are from lower income families who qualify for free and reduced lunch. In Washington, the state will pay full tuition for these kids if they go on to college in-state, but they must be enrolled in the Washington State College Bound program by the 8th grade. Last year, Chehalis School District had 100% of qualifying 8th graders enrolled in College Bound. This is a small example of the many things the Beyond K-12 Initiative has been doing to raise the opportunities for Chehalis kids, and you can help us do even more.

Beginning in 2013, the Chehalis Foundation funded the school district’s national search for a consulting team. The district chose the BERC Group; a team that has done research for the Gates Foundation and has conducted evaluations of effective teaching in more than 40,000 classrooms across the country.

The BERC Group continues working with the district funded by the Chehalis Foundation. The results to date are that the BERC Group has seen more classroom improvement here in Chehalis than in any other school district they have evaluated across the country! Chehalis School District and the teaching staff have demonstrated an amazing willingness to embrace the challenge of changing instructional habits.

Today, the Beyond K-12 Student Achievement Initiative is a partnership between the Chehalis Foundation, Chehalis School District and Centralia College. It aims to prepare every W.F. West graduate to be career and college ready. To meet new goals, the Chehalis Foundation is committed to fundraising $1.5M for the expansion of educational and support programs beyond W.F. West High School, offering more to all Chehalis students. A few key donors have generously pledged $1 million dollars, and currently the campaign is reaching out to the community to support the rest.

Through the research of the BERC Group many things have been learned that will make a difference for our kids. An interesting fact, for example, is that in recent years about half of the W.F. West grads have gone to college. And of that half, fifty percent will start out at Centralia College. But, of the fifty percent that go to Centralia College, a large percentage do not complete a degree or certification. There are many reasons for that fact, therefore several programs have been added to help change that statistic.

Centralia College Campus Students Chehalis Foundation

Stephen Ward

Vice President, Finance and Administration, Centralia College
Executive Director, Centralia College Foundation
Chehalis Foundation, Board Member

Stephen Ward Chehalis Foundation“There are several new enhancements in place to help keep incoming freshman on track to complete a degree or a career certification. The college has been provided the funding to have a Dedicated College Success Coach who will help support the incoming students. Many of these kids may be first in their families to go to college and they need guidance with scheduling, budgeting and a figuring out a clear path to success for their desired future careers or ongoing education.

We know incoming freshmen can be a bit intimidated, and we also know these kids usually don’t ask for help. So, we are setting up ways to catch and support these kids between high school and throughout their college experience. We are addressing many issues and expect to see some great results.”

Another big change is the Summer College Courses open to W.F. West Juniors. This program allows W.F. West Juniors to take classes on a college campus in summertime to familiarize themselves with the college environment. These classes not only provide the students with transferrable credits, but at the same time break down the intimidation factor and gives them more confidence as freshmen.

Other enhancements at Centralia College that have been made available through the Beyond K-12 Student Achievement Initiative include:

  • Faculty to Faculty Interactions
  • Data Sharing/Tracking
  • BERC coaching for College Success Coach
  • College Peer Mentors – Ambassadors
  • Summer STEM Academy Participant Day at the College

Education changes everything. So please join others in supporting the Beyond K-12 Student Achievement Initiative by donating today. We truly appreciate your serious consideration of this effort.


Together we will create extraordinary outcomes.

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