Who represents Centennial School District's ESL and refugee students?

“We all want our friends, families and the next generation to have a secure future.” – Sumitra Chhetri

Sumitra stands in a park smiling.

Northwest Health Foundation knows when elected officials look like their constituents, the policies they create work better for all of us. So, when a community leader connected to one of our funded partners is running, we want to spotlight them. This does not constitute an endorsement.  

In the last decade, Centennial School District in east Portland went from 16% students of color to 54%. That’s a huge demographic shift in a short amount of time. It’s a safe bet the schools, particularly the students of color, are feeling those growing pains.  

Sumitra Chhetri, a leader in our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Cohort, is running for Centennial School Board, Position 3, because she believes these students deserve representation. As a Bhutanese refugee who moved to Portland with her family in 2008, graduated from David Douglas High School as an ESL student, and now works for Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, she hopes to bring first-hand experience to the position. 

Sumitra’s brother, a current Centennial High School student, is enthusiastic about his sister’s campaign. He and his friends have been eager to share their input. At Sumitra’s Campaign Kickoff, her brother and two other students stated their support for Sumitra, because she will represent their voices as students of color.

Sumitra graduated from Portland State University with a degree in political science, and she’s actively participated in the political process since high school. As a college student, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for tuition equity. She also interned with a group lobbying in Washington, D.C. for paper bags instead of plastic in stores. She’s since spent lots of time in Salem advocating with the immigrant and refugee community, is currently vice president of the Oregon Bhutanese Community Organization and a community engagement liaison with the City of Portland, and was recently appointed to the Metro Citizenship Review Committee.

“I understand what students of families of color face,” wrote Sumitra on her campaign website. “Over the years, I have worked with immigrant and refugees families and communities advocating for issues such as access to education, health care, transportation, language, and affordable housing. Lack of health care, transportation, and affordable housing all impacts the learning ability of students in school.”

We wish you luck, Sumitra!

Learn more about Sumitra at her website and on Facebook.

Why We Endorse Measure 101

Measure 101 protects healthcare for 350,000 Oregonians.

Everyone deserves the chance to lead a healthy life. That includes affordable healthcare, and that's why we’re proud to join over 60 groups in endorsing Measure 101.

We know that:

  • Mothers with access to affordable healthcare have healthier babies.
  • Students with health insurance miss fewer days of school.
  • Employees with access to affordable healthcare for themselves and their families are more productive and happier.
  • All Oregonians benefit when friends, family, coworkers and neighbors can see a doctor or nurse, and don't have to visit the ER for routine care.

Voting yes means that, for the first time, every child in Oregon will have healthcare.

350,000 Oregonians rely on the funding that Measure 101 secures in order to keep their healthcare. I hope you’ll join us in voting YES on Measure 101 for healthcare this January. If you agree that every Oregonian deserves healthcare, no matter who they are or where they work, pledge to vote YES

Helen Ying: Connecting the Dots for a Better World

This blog is the first in a series of posts celebrating elected leaders who reflect our equity priorities. At Northwest Health Foundation, we know communities need the power and resources to sit at decision-making tables, to help dispel beliefs and practices that do not promote their health, and to help shape those that do. From local school boards to the state legislature, parents and families should have a voice.

Helen Ying stands in front of a crowd of her supporters, arms outstretched.

Helen Ying stands in front of a crowd of her supporters, arms outstretched.

Helen Ying's personal mission is to engage and empower people to improve their communities, something she's been doing her whole life. As a young teen and recent immigrant, Helen served on Marshall High School's student senate. It didn't matter to her that she was still learning English. She wanted to improve her community, and she'd found a way to do it — becoming a leader. This desire continued through adulthood, bringing Helen to where she is now: a member of Multnomah Education Service District's elected board of directors, National Vice President of Membership for the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and a force for change in our region.

Of course, Helen's journey wasn't a straight path from student senate to county-level elected official. First, she became a leader in her church, volunteering to coordinate the choir at age sixteen and superintending Sunday school at eighteen. For thirty years, she worked as a math teacher, school counselor and vice principal. During this time, she realized how few laws and policies truly support health, particularly the health of children and youth. When Helen retired, she knew she wanted to do one of two things: become a missionary or run for office. Lucky for all of us, she chose the latter.

Helen marches in the St. Johns Parade, waving with one hand and holding a campaign sign in the other.

Helen marches in the St. Johns Parade, waving with one hand and holding a campaign sign in the other.

Helen didn't win her first campaign for office. In 2011, then Metro Councilor Rex Burkholder approached her and suggested she run for his soon-to-be-vacant seat. Helen campaigned for six months and came in second. But she doesn't consider her campaign a failure. She ran against four white men and received more votes than three of them combined. Furthermore, the connections she made and visibility she gained during that campaign led to dozens of other opportunities.

After her loss, several community leaders approached Helen and invited her to serve on boards and committees. These included the Creation Committee for the Office of Equity for Portland and the Oregon Health Policy Board Coordinated Care Organization Criteria Work Group, among others. She also chairs the Asian American Youth Leadership Conference and serves as a board member for We Can Do Better. So, when Northwest Health Foundation President & CEO Nichole June Maher suggested Helen run for Multnomah Education Service District, Position 2 in 2017, Helen was ready. And this time, she won.

As a Multnomah Education Service District board member, Helen is committed to taking MESD to the next level. She strongly believes she and her fellow board members have the skills they need to succeed, to promote policies that will support health for children and youth.

In Helen's opinion, it is incredibly important for elected officials to reflect the communities they serve. As a young person, she couldn't understand why there weren't any leaders who looked like her. This year, at the Oregon School Board Association Conference, she and the other school board members of color (the most ever in Oregon's history) met to start a caucus to support one another and ensure their voices are heard. Helen wants today's students of color to be able to envision themselves in leadership roles, and seeing school board members who come from their communities making a real difference is part of that.

More than anything else, Helen Ying wants to inspire others, especially young people, to become involved in their communities and strive to make the changes they want to see in the world. Her advice? Start small. Consider your skills, where you can have influence, what needs to change. Make a commitment to yourself. It could be as simple as encouraging family members to vote. Continue taking tiny steps, working your way up to bigger actions. Participate in an issue campaign. Meet with your legislator. Join a committee or board. One day, you might even decide to run for office.

If Helen's story motivated you to get engaged, check out the partnership and learning opportunities on our Open Opportunities page. Maybe you'll find your next small step toward improving your community.

 

Q&A with our SummerWorks Interns, Hawi and Elisa

Hawi Muleta

Hawi Muleta

Q. How do you relate to Northwest Health Foundation's mission and vision?

Hawi: When I was a kid, I used to tell my parents I wanted to open a hospital one day in my country (Ethiopia), so people would have access to healthcare whether they could afford it or not. I even made a poster with little drawings of what my hospital would look like. My parents kept the posters to push me in my dreams. Even though I don’t have that exact dream now, I still feel very passionate about working with others to improve the societies we live in. I thank my parents for teaching my siblings and I from a young age that what we have in this life, however big or small, is a blessing, and to appreciate it, as well as work hard to change the things we want to see. Those lessons lessons they were taught from their parents, passed down from the generation before them, which were finally passed down to us  showed us the importance of learning from the past, the value of community and doing what we can to help each other grow and thrive. Northwest Health Foundation's promotion of health for everyone, including physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being, easily ties into my own values of advocacy, equity and opportunity for everyone in our communities near and far.

Elisa: I’ve always felt compelled to do everything in my power to improve the quality of life for the members of my community. Growing up, I wasn’t sure how my actions could directly influence the world around me, but through my high school years I have realized that my voice matters, and there are many different ways to get involved in social justice and advocacy. Northwest Health Foundation’s work to build connections between individuals and groups who seek to affect change resonates with me profoundly. I admire the fact that NWHF uses its platform to work with different regional communities and uplift local advocacy groups working for health equity. Many people (myself included) want to make a difference in the communities they call home, and NWHF not only understands this, but encourages the involvement and leadership of community members in their work towards health equity.

Q. What have you learned from your experience at Northwest Health Foundation?

Hawi: What I have learned from working with the staff at NWHF is looking at all the ways in which health can be promoted, as well as pushed to another level, as we learn new things. Life is not static, nor should health be or how we work with others to change, inspire, build and provides different avenues to support one another.

Elisa: My experience here even though it’s not over yet  has given me so many opportunities to learn about social justice issues present in Portland and the world as a whole. It has also been amazing to work in a building that houses so many other nonprofit organizations. Even through just daily activities, I have been able to meet and speak with so many people from so many different walks of life, and learn about what their organizations are working towards. Interning here is also the first job I’ve ever had, so I’ve learned how a real office functions, and how to dress and act in a professional environment.

Elisa Suarez

Elisa Suarez

Q. If you could make one change in your community, what change would you make?

Hawi: If I could make one change in my community, I would make higher education more accessible for students from all walks of life. Education in any form is important, but due to the rapid increase of tuition, many are unable to pursue higher education, especially people of color who are tokenized for “diversity” purposes instead of seeing the systemic issues that have played a part in their lives in seeking education.

Elisa: If I could make one change in my community, I would make it possible for the students at my school to remain in the district, as opposed to being forced out due to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. I transferred into my school from a different neighborhood, but I have witnessed too many of my friends from around Northeast have to leave their childhood homes and move to Troutdale, Fairview, or Gresham (a.k.a. “The Numbers”). It is enraging when the infrastructure of a neighborhood improves, yet the original members of the community are unable to reap the benefits, because it is no longer financially possible for them to lay claim to the place they call home.

Q. What are you going to do next, after this internship?

Hawi: After this internship, I will return to Willamette University to finish my last year of undergrad and see where life takes me next.

Elisa: After this internship, I will be going into my senior year of high school and dancing full-time when I am not in school. I will also be taking courses at Portland Community College in order to complete some of my prerequisites for my freshman year of college. I plan on majoring in English and minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies at a four-year university, most likely somewhere warm and sunny.

Q. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what food would you choose?

Hawi: I don’t think I could only eat one food for the rest of my life. Life would get boring, at least food-wise.

Elisa: If I had to eat one type of food for the rest of my life, it would be Thai food for sure. But if I had to pick just one actual food item, I would probably go with rice, because it’s very versatile and gluten free!

Meet more of Northwest Health Foundation's staff.

Request for Proposals: Oregon Active Schools Evaluation Partner

Northwest Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest and Nike, Inc. seek an evaluation partner to help us design and implement an evaluation for the Oregon Active Schools (OAS) fund. The evaluator will work collaboratively with OAS funded schools, fund partners and other evaluation partners to:

(1) Assess the contribution of OAS funds on the amount of time schools dedicate to physical activity

(2) Assess the contribution of OAS funds on school culture around physical activity

(3) Produce evaluation findings useful for the fund’s communications strategies

The evaluation partner will assess OAS’s contribution in schools by engaging with three cohorts of grantees representing schools who received OAS funding from 2014 to 2019. NWHF seeks to engage an evaluation partner as early as June 2017. 

Announcing the Equity Illustrated Design Contest Winners!

 

First Place - Salomé Chimuku


 

To Salomé Chimuku, already a veteran of social justice and public policy reform at age 25, equity is a familiar concept.

Read more about Salomé Chimuku ›

 
 

Second Place - Marc Asnis and Kathryn Hartinger


 

Turns out a collaboration born of a deep understanding of equity, an appreciation for urban planning, and diverse skills, can be a successful one.

Read more about Marc and Kathryn ›

 
 

Third Place - Matt Kinshella


 

Every day since January, Matt Kinshella has created an illustration depicting something he’s grateful for, from Italian architecture to Mexican hot sauce to a baby that sleeps through the night.

Read more about Matt Kinshella ›

 
 

Youth Contest Winner - Carol Bryan


 

"Everyone has a voice, no matter who they are or what challenges they have," wrote Carol Bryan, 14, of Corvallis, Oregon, when she submitted her winning entry for the 2016 Equity Illustrated Youth Design Contest. 

Read more about Carol Bryan ›

 

Equity Illustrated Youth Contest Winner: Everyone Has A Voice

The winning illustration in the 2016 Equity Illustrated Youth Design Contest sponsored by Meyer Memorial Trust and Northwest Health Foundation.

The winning illustration in the 2016 Equity Illustrated Youth Design Contest sponsored by Meyer Memorial Trust and Northwest Health Foundation.

[Image description: On the left, three people stand in a row, using various tools to amplify their voices. The smallest person speaks into a microphone. The middle-sized person speaks into a megaphone. The largest person cups his hands around his mouth. On the right, yellow ovals of graduated size represent sound waves. Text reads: "Everyone has a voice. Equity pumps up the volume."]

Youth Contest Winner Carol Bryan

Youth Contest Winner Carol Bryan

"Everyone has a voice, no matter who they are or what challenges they have," wrote Carol Bryan, 14, of Corvallis, Oregon, when she submitted her winning entry for the 2016 Equity Illustrated Youth Design Contest.

Carol's illustration acknowledges that everyone starts from a different place. Although everyone has a voice, some voices might be softer or louder than others. Some voices might struggle to be heard. Equity is when each person has the tool they need to amplify their voice.

Carol learned about the contest in her digital imaging class at school. Her teacher gave a presentation explaining the idea of equity and assigned the class to illustrate what equity meant to them. Actually entering the contest was optional.

Outside of school, Carol shows her dog and rabbit in 4H competitions and plays softball. She hopes to go to college at Oregon State University or Western Oregon University and study to go into the medical field.

To see the Equity Illustrated Adult Design Contest winning entries, visit www.equityillustrated.org.

Announcing Our New KPCF Funded Partners!

The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) at Northwest Health Foundation is pleased to award more than $1.6 million in grant funds to 12 organizations improving health in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Awarded annually since 2004, these grants address the “upstream” or underlying factors that impact community health. 

For the last four years the Fund has focused on three specific social determinants of health: early life & childhood development, educational attainment and economic opportunity. This year's organizations include:

EARLY LIFE & CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT 

  • Centro Latino Americano
  • Community Education Worker Steering Team
  • Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
  • Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA)
  • Partnership for Safety and Justice

EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT

  • Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
  • Latino Network
  • Momentum Alliance
  • OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY  

  • Clackamas Workforce Partnership
  • Family Forward Oregon
  • Huerto de la Familia

For too many of us, conditions where we’re born, learn and live limit our choices and our opportunity to be healthy. The 12 organizations listed above are tackling these conditions in innovative ways that are driven by the very communities they seek to impact. We’re honored to support this kind of work and look forward to the effect these organizations will have on the health of our region.

If you're interested in learning more about these amazing organizations and the work they are doing, please follow us on Twitter! We'll be highlighting each of our new funded partners in the coming weeks.

Announcing our 2015 Oregon Youth Photo Contest Winners

It's Public Health Week! And you know what that means... Time to announce our Oregon Youth Photo Contest winners!

Northwest Health Foundation and the Oregon Health Authority could not have been more pleased with the 95 submissions we received this year from youth across the state of Oregon. The participants did an amazing job capturing this year's theme: My Community Makes Me Better! You can see the twenty finalists and first, second and third place winners here. Their photos will be displayed in the Oregon Health Authority lobby in Portland all day Thursday, and we hope you'll take the time to check them out.

A special congratulations to our top three, Justyce Chaney, Jenny Kim and Gladys Rodriguez! And thank you to all of our educators and their students for participating!

NWHF Asks the Kids

With the launch of Northwest Health Foundation's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative, we wanted to speak to some of the key informants of our work. So our summer intern Nadia visited the Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metropolitan Area and asked the kids a couple questions...

Closing the Gap: Northwest Health Foundation Joins Clinton & Robert Wood Johnson Foundations

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI), in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Grantmakers In Health (GIH) for a day-long forum on May 8th, focused on addressing access and equity barriers to closing the gaps in childhood obesity in the United States.

NWHF President Nichole Maher joined a panel on Closing the Divide in Children's Health: A Place for Everyone at the Table. (She begins at around 21 minutes in.)

The forum will be livestreamed to help continue the conversation beyond conference walls. Be sure to join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #kidshealthmatters.

To view the entire forum and for more information, visit here.

Oregon Youth Photo Contest Opens Feb 1

2013 entry by Stephanie of Beaverton H.S.

2013 entry by Stephanie of Beaverton H.S.

As part of Oregon Public Health Week, Northwest Health Foundation and the Oregon Public Health Division are pleased to sponsor the 2014 Oregon Youth Photo Contest.

The contest opens on February 1, 2014 and closes on February 28, 2014 at 11:59pm.

So, pick up your camera and capture your own ideas of what health for everyone looks like!

Listening to Youth

Listening to Youth

It’s becoming increasingly clear that improving population health and reducing inequalities is related to our ability to create more space for leaders from the “millennial” generation.

Read More