Somali Families Need Somali Teachers

A story with Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project.

Every family and community wants their children to succeed in school. Oregon’s Somali community is no different.

 Three members of the Somali community sit on one side of a white tablecloth-covered table.

However, the Somali community faces some additional barriers to education in the United States. For one, there’s the language barrier. Even if a Somali student speaks English fluently, members of their family, including their parents, might not. That means it is challenging for parents to engage in their children’s school. (It’s been shown that parent involvement advances learning.) In addition, as Somali children lose their native language, it becomes harder and harder for them to communicate with older generations of their family and community.

There is also a cultural barrier to education for Somali families: most Somali Americans lived in refugee camps for years before they moved to the U.S., and the refugee camps did not have formal schools. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Somali children, youth and their families might have trouble understanding and navigating Oregon’s school system. As a result, many Somali students drop out.

Concerned Somali parents and community members met with Portland Public School District officials, hoping to solve these problems. At first, PPS offered money to the Somali community for afterschool problems. “Money is great,” said parent and community member Isgow Mohamed, “but that’s not the issue.” What they really needed was someone in the schools who spoke their language and understood their culture: a Somali teacher or administrator.

Thanks to the Somali community’s advocacy, PPS hired a Somali teacher to teach at Rosa Parks Elementary School, and occasionally visit other schools as well. And, they’re determined to place more Somali teachers in more schools across the district. That way, Somali children and youth will feel supported in the classroom. Parents will have someone they trust who they can bring questions to. Teachers will encourage students to speak Somali, as well as English. If all goes well, Somali students will thrive.

It is doubly difficult for immigrants and refugees from non-English speaking countries to advocate for themselves. They may not be comfortable speaking up for themselves in English. In addition, they may come from countries where civic and political engagement is discouraged, sometimes violently. The Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project, led by their Multiethnic Advisory Group, engages and supports immigrant and refugee community members to participate in storytelling and advocacy for systems change. Northwest Somali Community Organization is one of their core partners.

Oregon Active Schools: Hillside Elementary School

This blog is the eighth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Two students hug each other and smile on a field full of students playing.

HERE'S WHAT HILLSIDE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school special?

Friends and teachers.

We can earn student of the month.

We have lots of friends.

We get to learn.

 

Q. What is your favorite part of recess or PE?

I like to do cartwheels with my friends.

You can play on the playground.

We get exercise, and we get to learn.

You get to enjoy the sun.

 

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

To get you fit.

You get strong.

You can play with your friends.

 
 A large group of Hillside Elementary School students pose in front of a playground.

HERE'S WHAT HILLSIDE ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Hillside Elementary School is a modern school in a beautiful mountainside setting. Something special about our school is we have electives three days a week. Students get to choose which elective they would like to participate in. Electives change every four to six weeks, allowing students exposure to multiple active activities. Some of the current elective options are nature hikes, 80s aerobics, rock climbing, obstacle course, dance party, relay races and soccer. Students look forward to their electives and value the choice.

 

Q. How did your school use your Oregon Active Schools grant?

Finding opportunities for more Hillside students and families to become active was an important goal for our school. This year, Hillside participated in the Mayor’s Cup Fun Run. We promoted the event through emails, presentations and social media. The grant allowed us to assist families who were unable to pay the entry fee. We look forward to this becoming an annual tradition.

Our student leadership team served as the planning committee for our second goal: creating a walk or bike to school day. They connected with community businesses, mapped out walking routes and worked with our local police officers to create a day where students and families could walk or bike to school. They also created advertisements and fliers. The walk or bike was followed by an outdoor party with music, granola bars, bracelets and water. We believe that by providing a special day for students to walk or bike to school, we will encourage families to walk or bike more often, instead of driving.

 

Q. What changes have you seen in your school since it became an "Active School?"

Both of our events were successful and will now be part of our annual Hillside events. The student leadership team felt empowered by the opportunity to facilitate such a large event.

 

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

Research is clear about the correlation of physical activity with better academic results. At Hillside, we strive to include physical activity throughout the day. Often it will be a quick moving activity, such as a Go Noodle movement video or crossing the center line stretching activity. With our recess time and electives we keep our students moving.

 

Hillside Elementary School is in Jackson County School District.

Oregon Active Schools: Parkdale Elementary School

This blog is the seventh in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Parkdale students stand scattered around a field. One student holds a yellow ball.

HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What is your favorite part of recess or PE?

I like to play and have fun with my friends when I’m in PE and at recess.

The best thing about PE is when we learned how to jump rope.

I like to play tag in PE and at recess.

My favorite part of recess is getting to run.

My favorite part of PE is when we get to play tag games.

 
 Parkdale students jump rope in a gym. A rainbow and dragon are painted on the wall above the basketball hoops.

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

Play is important, because it is fun!

Exercise helps you grow up to be healthy and strong.

Exercise helps you grow big strong muscles, and it is fun.

I think exercise is important, because it makes you sweat.

 

HERE'S WHAT PARKDALE ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

 Parkdale students play indoor soccer.

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Our school is special because we are located in a small rural community. Our students and families know each other very well, and it is like a large family.

A little more than fifty percent of our students are English Language Learners. Students come in at all different language levels, but our school is awesome about meeting the needs of each of our students.

Parkdale is special because of the people who work here and the kids we serve. Having worked in multiple schools before this one, I have found that Parkdale is incredibly unique thanks to the autonomy of the teachers in regards to their belief that all students truly can learn, as well as the hard work I see teachers putting in on a daily basis in order to promote this learning.

 

Q. How did your school use your Oregon Active Schools grant?

Parkdale used the Oregon Active Schools (OAS) grant in several ways. Our first priority was buying much needed basic physical education equipment in order to provide a varied and standards-based PE class to all students at Parkdale. We bought jump ropes, several types of balls/beanbags and other basic supplies. These purchases allowed us to eliminate wait time for our students in PE by putting the appropriate equipment into each student’s hands. 

The OAS grant also allowed us to offer “non-traditional” opportunities for our students in their PE class. With new equipment, we were able to teach a wide variety of activities students had not previously been exposed to, such as team building skills and racket sports. This gives our program the opportunity to engage all students and to give them the confidence to participate in a variety of physical activities as they continue to grow.

We also used the OAS grant to purchase some new technology for our students to use in PE. We bought a tripod to hold an iPod so that students can begin to self assess their own skills through recording and observation. We are also getting ready to roll out pedometers that can be uploaded with individual student data at the end of each class. This will allow students to track their steps taken and activity time while in class. The data will be used to help assess the effectiveness of lessons and to encourage students to be fully engaged in class.

Finally, the OAS grant was used to help overhaul the whiteboard in the gym. Students are now using the area to self assess their performance in class. This area is helping the students become more aware of themselves and take control of their own learning.

 

 Three Parkdale students play on a balance beam. More students sit on swings behind them.

Q. What changes have you seen in your school since it became an "Active School?"

The biggest change I have seen is at recess. Students are now participating in activities at recess that they learned in PE. I like to think that good PE is contagious and not limited to the four walls of the gym. When students are able to take something they learned in class, make it their own and use it outside the classroom, that shows that it is important to them. I also have parents telling me that their students are introducing activities that we are doing in class at home. It makes me smile when a parent tells me, “I played Man in the Mirror with my daughter last night before we went to bed." As the physical education program continues to grow at Parkdale, I will continue to look for ways to make natural changes. For example, some of the staff that supervise recess have been approaching me about the recess equipment. We are already brainstorming about how we can use some of our OAS grant funds from next year to improve our recess program. The OAS grant was the catalyst we needed to start this positive shift in our students.

Coach Hassell continues to come up with new ideas to teach the kids and new tools to use during PE time. The kids love the fast pace and the new, fun activities they are presented with. He also provides teachers with games and activities we can incorporate in the classroom. This saves us enormous amounts of time, because we don't have to teach the students the activities, and we can get them moving in our own classrooms.

 

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

My kindergarten students look forward to seeing Coach Hassell and going to PE every school day (even when PE is not scheduled). Coach's straight-talking, developmentally appropriate teaching captivates my students. They happily go to PE and return to me as sweaty, red-faced, physically-spent and euphoric kinders! After PE, we have 35 more minutes of school. Some days this is a difficult time because my students are tired and looking forward to going home. On PE days, the last part of the day provides a time for focused learning for most of my students. I think this focus comes from the physical activity they just experienced in PE. While I give my students brain and movement breaks throughout my instruction, there is nothing like 40 minutes of physical activity to fire up the brain synapses.

PE is hands down the majority of my students' favorite part of the day. It is a place where they are so engaged mentally and physically. At the end of the day students write memories from their day on slips of paper that go into our memory jar. Every PE day they are excited to write down and remember the game they played, the skills they learned and their successes. We have PE early in the day, and on those days students come back ready to focus and engage in academic content. 

 

Parkdale Elementary School is one of Hood River County School District's eight schools.

 

Oregon Active Schools: Henry L Slater Elementary School

This blog is the sixth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 
 Students play with colorful streamers in a school hallway. 

HERE'S WHAT Henry L Slater Elementary STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

Q. What makes your school special?

Kindergartener: That our school keeps us safe, and we are respectful and responsible.

1st Grader: Other kids and myself helping each other. We help clean up our classroom and our school.

2nd Grader: My friends and teachers make this school special.

3rd Grader: Our school is special because everybody is friendly. The students in my class and my teacher is very nice. They always share.

4th Grader: Our school is special, because we don't have that many kids so it's easier to work. Our class is small, and so that gives me more time to be with the teacher to understand things. My teacher gives me options of where to sit to learn better.

 

Q. What is your favorite part of recess or PE?

Kindergartener: My favorite part is doing superhero moves in PE. We lift our legs and stretch our arms. I loved Temple of Doom. You get to play a lot and it's kind of exercising.

1st Grader: My favorite part of PE is when we exercise. I like stretching.

2nd Grader: My favorite part of recess is tetherball, because I like hitting the ball and winning.

 A student wearing a pirate bandana wields a styrofoam noodle.

3rd Grader: My favorite part of PE is getting to do the stretches. This unit in PE you listen to music and do hula-hoops, step aerobics and stretches like exercising.  I like this unit more than Temple of Doom, because you get to listen to music. At recess I like hanging out with my friends.

4th Grader: My favorite part of recess is practicing volleyball, because I am getting better at it. I really like the assemblies and a lot of things in PE. I especially like Temple of Doom and the Pirates of the Caribbean.  I like getting my energy up, and the obstacles are fun to do. 

 

Q. Why are exercise and play important?

Kindergartenr: It will make our body healthier and make you skinnier.

1st Grader: Exercise is important, because it helps your heart go and it gives you energy.

2nd Grader: Exercising is important, because you need oxygen for your body.  Exercising keeps you healthy, helps you do more stuff, and you can go places.

3rd Grader: Exercise is important, because you can get fit and be healthy.

4th Grader: Exercise and play are important, because they help you not get overweight and it helps you stay healthy.

 

HERE'S WHAT Henry L Slater Elementary STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT EXERCISE AND PLAY AT THEIR SCHOOL:

 Colorful exercise equipment is spread throughout a school gym.

Q. What makes your school and students special?

Sarika Mosley, Principal: Our school is incredibly special, because we have parents, students and teachers who care about every part of our students’ day. We strive hard to provide the necessary academics and differentiate our lesson so that every child’s ability is met. We have a wonderful group of teachers that know our students and parents well, that want to make a difference in their lives. We have one of the best playgrounds I have seen, with detailed blacktop games that Mrs. Herauf spray paints every summer.  She teaches our students in the Fall how to play at each blacktop activity. We provide our students Music and PE every other day, and we also have a computer lab and a librarian that provide additional access to our students.

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: Our school is special because we offer so many neat things for our students. We have specialists for music, PE, and after-school programs such as volleyball and kinder basketball.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: Being a small community we have a unique and mixed population within our schools. One common thread is our love for our community, especially the youth. We have a long tradition of excellence and quality in our extracurricular activities. To achieve this a love and foundation has been laid beginning in the elementary school. We teach these kids knowing that many will go all through school in this district and eventually return to the community.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our staff and students show respect to each other, try hard, are eager in their learning and always give 100%.

 

Q. How did your school use your Oregon Active Schools grant?

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: We incorporated Brain Games. Before a test, when they [the kids] get antsy, or days when they don’t have PE, we have these active activities for students. We have three types of Brain Games for students: cooperation, cardiovascular and spatial awareness. We differentiate for indoor and outdoor. They enhance PE and classroom activities.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: We have put up activities around the school that we call "Brain Games." These activities can be used for additional exercise, a brain break, ease transitions, inside recess, or other academic activities that need a large motor activity to accompany them. For example, in kindergarten we use the scarves, rings of fire, tops and other games to build excitement with math and counting. The students are also getting physical activity and working on motor skills as they are practicing their math.

 
 Students stand in and around a grid spray painted on a blacktop.

Q. What changes have you seen in your school since your school became an "Active School?"

Sarika Mosley, Principal: I see students engaged in indoor activities with their teachers during hallways transitions and bathroom breaks. I see students working together in pairs and individually trying to do their best with balancing, coordination and activating different parts of their brains. This is especially helpful during our months of snow fall when our outdoor equipment is inaccessible.

Alice Herauf, PE Teacher: Our students are becoming more fit with 5-1-1-0. They are more engaged in games instead of getting into behavior issues.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: The most obvious change is the access to equipment and physical activities that before were only accessible to the PE teacher. With 30 stations available at any time to any class the option for giving kids a mental break and quick exercise/energy boost throughout the day is a major change. Instead of a recess, kids can be involved in an active game or challenge. Another positive change is where the games are strategically placed. The placement allows teachers to use the games in times of transition to eliminate standing around and waiting. Instead they can be involved in a Brain Game.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our students are more aware of how they can use their brains and bodies in connection. They are focused on creating a learning atmosphere that helps make connections in their brains and grow them as students.

 

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

Sarika Mosley, Principal: When you live in a community impacted by many hardships, such as poverty, mental health, obesity, diabetes and trauma, you must do your best to help your students moderate their emotions. These are tied directly to the physical benefits of actively engaging our students. When we tie activities to their day daily, students learn to have healthy habits that can help fight against the hardships they come with. Overall, no matter what our students walk of life, physical activity gets our students to smile, helps them maintain healthy bones and muscles, and helps them fight against any depression and anxiety that they may come across in their lifetime.

Andie Nichols, Kindergarten Teacher: Our students love PE, so to me a win-win combination is to get the kids up and moving and learning something at the same time. Physical activity can increase engagement and make learning more enjoyable. From my experience, kids perform better and are ready to learn even after a quick movement activity. It gives them something to look forward to and promotes an active lifestyle that will hopefully carry over into the future.

Tori Fenton, 3rd Grade Teacher: Our brain and bodies are connected and work together. Physical activity helps the brain make long term memory connections for academic advancement. Physical activity also helps keep our hearts and bodies in shape and ready to learn.

 

Henry L Slater Elementary School is one of Harney County School District's three schools.

 

Youth Unite for Social Justice

A spotlight on Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Youth Equity Collaborative.

 The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

The Youth Equity Collaborative at the Oregon Students of Color Conference.

Youth voices often go unnoticed and unrecognized in social justice movements. Youth leaders are undervalued due to their "lack of experience." But, when it comes to youth, people are measuring experience the wrong way. Youth have plenty of experience – their own lived experience. Youth are their own experts.

The Youth Equity Collaborative, made up of youth-led social justice organizations, including Multnomah Youth Commission, Latino Unidos Siempre, CAPACES Leadership Institute, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon's Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, Oregon Students of Color Coalition with Oregon Student Association and Momentum Alliance, values and prioritizes youth voices.

The Youth Equity Collaborative encourages collective youth action and including youth at decision making tables when the decisions will affect youth, because youth are capable of making change. 

Some of the challenges youth face are lack of affordable transportation, financial support and accommodations for their participation, as well as lack of opportunities. The Youth Equity Collaborative does its best to support our youth and aims to remove barriers by providing reimbursement for transportation, providing bust tickets and childcare as needed. They also provide opportunities for youth to explore, network and participate in leadership development by sending them to conferences, gatherings and lobby days.

Why did the organizations that are part of the Youth Equity Collaborative choose to join the Youth Equity Collaborative?

  • To build relationships and network across organizations.
  • To engage the community on a greater scale.
  • To create a coherent and unified youth voice across the state.
  • To learn and share effective organizational practices.
  • To foster a support network for youth involved in social justice movements.

What has the Youth Equity Collaborative been doing lately?

  • Building relationships, including meeting monthly, playing fun games and discussing what "our future looks like."
  • Participating in the Oregon Students of Color Conference and Communities Collaborate gatherings and traveling together.
  • Creating content for social media campaigns.
  • Creating a political agenda.

Latina Parents in Southern Oregon Stand Up for Their Children

A story from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Successful Transitions: Integrated Care for Children, Youth, and their Families.

 A Latina mother sits beside her son in a classroom while he plays with Legos.

Yolanda Peña and Raquel Garay, two Latina mothers with children in Eagle Point School District in Southern Oregon, understand the barriers parents in their community face when trying to advocate for their children’s education. Such barriers include lack of understanding of the school system’s structure, language barriers, family responsibilities and disconnection from the community. 

Peña and Garay currently serve as the president and vice president of the Migrant Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC) in their district. Migrant Education Program of Southern Oregon is part of Successful Transitions, one of ten Collaborates that in Northwest Health Foundation's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Cohort working to build power for kids and families. 

One of Successful Transitions’ goals is to empower Latino early learners, students and their families by providing parent leadership and advocacy opportunities. Through Successful Transitions, Garay and Peña had the opportunity to attend Northwest Health Foundation’s Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities gatherings in Astoria, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington in 2016. Participating in these leadership development activities encouraged them to take on various leadership roles in their community, but especially in their children’s school district. 

Learning about the issues other Collaboratives are dealing with has helped Peña realize that every community in our region experiences different barriers, and it’s crucial for Latino students and their families to share their personal experiences and to be represented in decision-making spaces. 

Garay and Peña know from personal experience that navigating the educational system can be intimidating for many parents. Being the president and vice president for their district’s PAC has allowed them to voice the concerns of many Latino and migrant parents, and to have a direct influence in the decisions made regarding their children’s education. Garay acknowledges that it can be intimidating for many parents to speak up and advocate for their children, but she urges them to advocate for their children and their community anyway. She motivates other parents to become involved in their children’s education by helping them see the impact it has in their children’s academic and social performance.

By becoming active participants and working closely with the school districts, parents are not only advocating for their families, but for the community as a whole.

Check Out Our Partners in Willamette Week's 2016 Give!Guide

 An artist stands on a cherry picker painting a mural. The words "GIVE!GUIDE" are superimposed on top of it.

It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,600,000 total for 141 deserving Portland nonprofits.

Several of those 141 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. We've highlighted five below! These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.

 

Black Parent Initiative

 A man holds a toddler in a school hallway. The man, the toddler and a teen standing nearby all look down at a toy the toddler is holding.

What is Black Parent Initiative? Black Parent Initiative (BPI) is the only culturally specific organization in Portland focused solely on supporting parents as a vehicle for enhancing the lives of Black youth. It helps families achieve financial, educational and spiritual success.

How is NWHF supporting BPI? NWHF is currently funding BPI through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund to engage low-income African American families in comprehensive home-visiting services.

Why should I give to them? Children are more likely to succeed in learning, life and realizing their dreams when supported by stable and engaged adults; and communities are more likely to succeed when they prepare their children to succeed. By supporting BPI, you support a vibrant, thriving Portland.

 

Community Alliance of Tenants

 The words "#RenterStateofEmergency" and "#RenterSOS" in black text on a white ground. Above the text are icons representing a roof and megaphone.

What is Community Alliance of Tenants? Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) builds tenant power through education, advocacy, building-based organizing, leadership development and membership engagement.

How is NWHF supporting CAT? Last year NWHF supported CAT's Renter State of Emergency campaign.

Why should I give to them? Portland is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, and renters are the people most impacted by it. CAT is on the front lines striving to protect renters through advocacy and legislation. In 2015, CAT's Renter State of Emergency prompted the City of Portland to declare a Housing State of Emergency. Now CAT is running a #JustCauseBecause campaign to protect tenants from no cause evictions. By giving to CAT, you contribute to all Oregonians having a stable place to live.

 

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization

 Three women with beaded headbands and necklaces press their faces close together and smile.

What is Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization? Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) promotes the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society. Founded in 1976 by refugees for refugees, IRCO has nearly 40 years of history and experience working with Portland's refugee and immigrant communities.

How is NWHF supporting IRCO? IRCO is the lead organization for one of our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaboratives: Immigrant and Refugee Engage Project. 

Why should I give to them? Immigrants and refugees are a boon to our communities and our economy. Unfortunately, many of them now face the likelihood of unjust legislation by the new federal administration that will try to force many of them to leave their homes and lives in the U.S. By donating to IRCO, you support immigrants and refugees to adjust to American society, find jobs and advocate for themselves.  

 

Partnership for Safety and Justice

 A child stands next to a picket sign that reads "Justice for youth."

What is Partnership for Safety and Justice? Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) works with people convicted of crime, survivors of crime, and the families of both to advocate for policies that make Oregon’s approach to public safety more effective and more just.

How is NWHF supporting PSJ? NWHF is funding PSJ, through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, to implement, refine and increase community understanding and support, evidence-based justification, and state-wide expansion of the Family Sentencing Alternative. (The Family Sentencing Alternative allows parents to stay with their children while serving their sentence under community supervision.)

Why should I give to them? Incarceration has a huge negative impact on a person's future, as well as on their family's. For example, children of prisoners are more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol, become teenage parents, commit crimes, and become unemployed and/or homeless. By donating to PSJ, you help families overcome the obstacles of life after incarceration and prevent more kids from losing their parents to prison in the future.

 

Urban League of Portland

 Kids crowd around a craft table.

What is Urban League of Portland? Urban League of Portland (ULPDX) is one of the oldest African American service, civil rights and advocacy organizations in the Portland metro area. ULPDX’s mission is to empower African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.

How is NWHF supporting ULPDX? NWHF last funded ULPDX to convene community members to discuss priorities related to improving children's health and education.

Why should I support them? Oregon has a deeply embedded history of discrimination against African Americans. By giving to ULPDX, you contribute to dismantling racist systems and support programs that uplift the African American community.

 

Two Stories from Eastern Oregon

Two stories from Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Collaborative Eastern Oregon Latino Alliance for Children and Families, which is led by EUVALCREE.

Insights from a Latina Youth Leader

 Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Ontario School District representative Benardina Navarrete and High School Student Genesis Romero stand on either side of an Ontario School District banner in the hallway of Alameda Elementary School.

Genesis Romero is a EUVALCREE volunteer and a senior at Vale High School in Vale, OR. For her senior project she organized a resource fair to inform Latino families of existing resources and services in the community.

The event took place on October 8th from 10am to 2pm at Alameda Elementary School in Ontario, OR.

Later that evening, Genesis participated in a focus group hosted by EUVALCREE to discuss community needs with one of our major partners, Saint Alphonsus Medical Center - Ontario. She shared insights from her own experience, as well as her learnings from the event she organized. Genesis said: The best thing a student can have is the support of their teachers. Unfortunately, more often then not, students are not supported by their teachers and, furthermore, are frequently disregarded as someone who is not going to accomplish much in life.

Genesis is graduating from high school this year. She dreams of becoming a forensic scientist and, later, a medical examiner. 

 

EUVALCREE Assesses Hard-to-Reach Community Members' Needs

 A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

A EUVALCREE Community Organizer provides information on leadership and advocacy courses, and how to become a volunteer, at a table draped with a EUVALCREE banner. Three women and two kids crowd around the table.

EUVALCREE recently conducted a different kind of community assessment. How was it different? They focused on reaching the community members that are hard to reach - the ones who have not accessed services or resources, or replied to a questionnaire asking what they could use to help them achieve their dreams for themselves and their families.

The collection period occurred over the course of four months. 17 trained volunteers went door to door in Malheur County, Oregon, and Payette and Washington Counties, Idaho. The average household visit was approximately 60 minutes. With almost 900 volunteer hours in data collection, 497 community assessments were collected. The data was transcribed over the course of two months, and the results are currently being analyzed.

From this information, EUVALCREE is developing a strategic plan to address the identified community needs and make the changes necessary to move the Eastern Oregon Latino community forward. Results will be made public once a strategic plan is adopted, and the strategic plan will be made public as well. 

 

Read more about EUVALCREE in The Ford Family Foundation's publication, Community Vitality

Washington County Latino Parents Organize to Break the Cycle of Childhood Poverty

adelante mujeres parents

[Image description: Latino parents gather around a conference table.]

In Washington County, 27% of children 0-6 are Latino. Yet Latino children account for more than half of children in poverty.

Here’s another shocking stat: Although 36% of youth and children in western Washington County are Latino, Hillsboro and Forest Grove school districts’ boards of directors are both 100% white.

Furthermore, out of six Forest Grove city councilors and six Hillsboro city councilors, only one is Hispanic or Latino.

This is unacceptable. This means that the Latino community, which is by far the largest ethnic/racial minority community in Oregon, is not represented at these important decision-making tables and does not have a hand in creating the policies that impact Latino kids and families.

Enter Creciendo Juntos. Led by Vision Action Network and made up of collaborative partners from education and human services sectors, Creciendo Juntos engages Latino parents to become active in their kids’ education and involved in the community, with an end goal of breaking the cycle of childhood poverty. Latino parents who are currently active in this initiative live in high-poverty neighborhoods and attend areas within the six elementary schools with the greatest percentages of Latino children in the Forest Grove and Hillsboro School Districts; three in Forest Grove: Cornelius, Echo Shaw and Fern Hill; and three in Hillsboro: Lincoln Street, Reedville and W. L. Henry. In 2012-13, each of these elementary schools had an enrollment of 66-86% Hispanic students and a free and reduced lunch eligibility of 75-85%.

According to Creciendo Juntos staff, “There is a great hunger among Latinos to work together for a better life.”

Over the last couple years, Creciendo Juntos has strengthened Latino leadership through its Advocacy Team composed of one bilingual staff member and two Latino participants from each participating partner. Their meetings are focused on educating and empowering Latinos, and are all held in Spanish. Topics covered range from citizenship and immigration rights to navigating the school system and volunteering on boards and committees.

With the newfound knowledge gained in these gatherings, parents become more comfortable participating at their kids’ schools and advocating for their kids’ education. Some of the parents involved in Creciendo Juntos are also eager to join parent advisory committees at the district level, and possibly even run for city council positions.

Moving forward, the parents who started with Creciendo Juntos will become the teachers, helping new parents become familiar with school and community systems, sharing a vision of a thriving Western Washington county where Latino children and their families are healthy, successful in school, life and engaged in their community.

Creciendo Juntos was one of Northwest Health Foundation's partners during our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Organizing Grant Year.

Oregon Active Schools: Green Acres Elementary School

This blog is the fifth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

Playworks

[Image description: Elementary school-aged kids jump rope on a playground blacktop.]

HERE'S WHAT GREEN ACRES STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. We used Oregon Active Schools funding for a variety of things at our school! One-third of the funds were used to purchase new equipment for before school activities in the gym. Students enter the gym before school and now have equipment that is developmentally appropriate to help them start off their day with physical activity and movement. We also used some of the funds to purchase “Brain Break” books for all of the classrooms in our school. Teachers now have a book filled with ideas for quick brain breaks in order to promote more movement throughout the school day.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. Students love to move, and by providing resources to encourage this they are able to move more. For example, now teachers don’t have to worry about coming up with a quick activity on their own. They can easily grab the Brain Break book, flip to a page, perform an activity to get the class moving, and then re-engage in the learning that needs to take place within three to five minutes. Also, with more equipment readily available more students can start their day with physical activity. Rather than having to stand in a long line to wait for a jump rope or basketball, we have enough equipment for students to work in small groups.

Q. How have these funds supported your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. We were able to purchase equipment that isn’t necessarily “traditional” in order to expose students to new physical activities that they may enjoy. Perhaps a student doesn’t like to be physically active because they don’t like traditional team sports. With funds we were able to purchase things students had never heard of, like Chinese jump ropes, omnikin balls and Velcro catch and throw sets.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity is vital for students. Our bodies were made to move, and when we expect students to sit in a desk all day with minimal movement they become disengaged. However, when incorporating movement into the learning process, students are able to learn while also being physically active. In addition I believe it is important to expose students to a variety of activities. If they find something they enjoy they are more likely to continue being physically active as they age, which leads to a healthy, productive life.

Green Acres Elementary School is one of Lebanon Community School District's eight schools.

 

Oregon Active Schools: Aiken Elementary

This blog is the fourth in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Kids play on a playground carousel.

[Image description: Five kids play on a playground carousel. One girl leans back over the edge, her braid flying. One sits and dangles her legs over the side.]

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STAFF HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. In 2014, Aiken Elementary applied for the $3,000 grant to construct a walking trail, but after calculating the cost we realized the expenses for the trail significantly outweighed the aid provided by the grant. Northwest Health Foundation allowed the school to repurpose the grant to help fund the building of a new playground. This funding allowed the Aiken PTO, Oregon Active Schools and Ontario School District to partner to add three new playground structures to the Aiken campus. The ribbon cutting event was well-attended and a healthy “create your own” snack-mix station was provided by OSU Extension staff.

In 2015, Aiken Elementary applied for an additional $3,000 grant to fund a walking program at the school. Aiken partnered with OSU Extension staff Barbara Brody and Jill Hoshaw to outline a plan to increase the amount of physical activity opportunities students receive in the school day. Included in this project will be a spring kick-off assembly, jog-a-thon, walking club, and recognition of students who are making health conscious choices when it comes to exercise and nutrition.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. Through the additional funding and a partnership with OSU Extension, students are given far more opportunities to get out of their desks, learn healthy life skills, and move. The new playground equipment has been very popular with students and it is the busiest place on the playground. If you drive by Aiken Elementary on evenings or weekends you can see students and other community members enjoying use of these new installations.

This year, OSU staff trained teachers at Aiken to implement the use of Balanced Energy Physical Activity Toolkits. Through the use of this resource from October to December, students have increased their physical activity by 2,298 minutes, or over 38 hours. Since obtaining grant funding, Aiken has made physical education and nutrition a focus of family and community events.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity in schools is important because we are teaching children skills to be successful in life. Health plays a major part in overall success. We know from data gathered that students who receive adequate physical activity opportunities have better behavior and academic performance. We want to provide students with the best education possible, and providing them physical education plays a crucial role.

 

HERE'S WHAT AIKEN ELEMENTARY STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Alina, 3rd grade: “We get to play more fun things in PE. We had a contest on how many bean bags each person could throw into a bucket. The spinny thing is my favorite part of the new playground. I sometimes come play at Aiken on the weekends.”

J.J., 3rd grade: “We get to play more activities in PE. The slide is my favorite thing on the playground. I like to play indoor soccer.”

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Will, 1st grade: “My favorite part of PE is when we start to play with bean bags and buckets. We go in groups and then we start to play. We go run to the other buckets and try to put the bean bags in the other buckets. We try to empty our bucket and fill someone else’s bucket. My favorite game is soccer when I get to practice and play games.”

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Brooke, 5th grade: “It’s important because every kid needs exercise. Playing outside makes me happy. Fresh air is good for kids. It helps my mind focus. It’s free to play at school, but for city sports you have to pay money.”

Aiken Elementary is one of Ontario School District's five elementary schools.

Oregon Active Schools: Parklane Elementary School

This blog is the third in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

[Image description: Kids in navy, white and khaki school uniforms stand in line at an orange cone. A girl in the foreground, walking away from the camera, wears bright blue and orange sneakers and green pony beads in her hair.]

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PE TEACHER JASON BRENNAN HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. At Parklane Elementary, our students LOVE to be active and play. We used the Oregon Active Schools funding to improve the quantity and quality of physically active experiences in our Physical Education classes, at recess, in our after school SUN program and during physical activity breaks. We upgraded and successfully organized our recess equipment by purchasing a playground storage bin, mobile hula hoop & jump rope rack, new soccer goals, and pinnies and cones for our Game of the Week activities. We are currently installing a new basketball backboard and hoop, as well as a volleyball court on our blacktop, which will be awesome. Maybe the most exciting addition is our new cross-country exercise Treadmarks program, which challenges our students to to run-walk-jog their way around a 1/4 path throughout our playground. Students keep track of their progress and earn rewards on their way to achieving the goal of 125 miles!

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. The Oregon Active School funds have allowed Parklane to provide the students of our school with a wide variety of choices and opportunities for physical activity. In our Physical Education and physical activity-related SUN classes, our instructors are able to use some of the new equipment to enable more students to engage in vigorous physical activity for a larger percentage of the class time. At recess, students can instantly participate in our Treadmarks program for the entirety of the recess or for a lap or two before quickly moving onto another physical activity on the playground. Hula hoops and jump ropes are always in use on the playground, and our soccer and Game of the Week activities are easily organized with the addition of our new pinnies and cones, allowing for large numbers of students to join and participate with high levels of physical activity.

Q. How did these funds help support your students' cultural and regional identities?

A. The students at Parklane Elementary enjoy engaging in all types of play and movement experiences and these funds have allowed our diverse student body, who together speak 20 different languages, more quality opportunities to socialize and build relationships and friendships through the exciting participation in sport and physical activity.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Schools are full of kids, and what do kids love to do........PLAY!!! It is no secret that students who regularly participate in physical activity have high levels of academic achievement, impulse control, positive behaviors and self-esteem. By providing our students at Parklane with more diverse opportunities to be physically active throughout the school day, we are providing them with safe, organized, socially engaging experiences in physical education and physical activities that can positively influence our children throughout their lifetime.

 

HERE'S WHAT PARKLANE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS HAD TO SAY ABOUT OREGON ACTIVE SCHOOLS:

Q. How has recess changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

Jazleen: The treadmarks help me walk more.
Kavonte: A lot of people are doing treadmarks instead of four-square or basketball.
Lilli: We now have more choices on the playground. Some start at treadmarks and then go to a game, or the other way around.
Daniel: The treadmarks help me run faster.

Q. What is your favorite part about recess or PE?

Darius: My favorite part about recess is playing soccer and basketball with my friends.
Alex: I play with my friends at PE and have adventures.
Abdiaziz: My favorite part about PE is soccer, because it is my favorite sport.
Josh: Treadmarks!
Laila: Treadmarks. They help me be energized.
Allison: Star Wars dodgeball.
Kavonte: Kickball.
Alex: Playing volleyball.

Q. Why do you think physicial activity in schools is important?

Lyndsey: You get stronger.
Bridget: You get energy.
Nevaeh: So you can be healthy.
Lilli: So that you can release energy from your body. It's good for you.
Holly: Because it is healthy for you. IT'S FUN! And it feels good!
 

Parklane Elementary School is one of Centennial School District's seven elementary schools.

 

Oregon Active Schools: Barnes Elementary School

This blog is the second in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Read the first post here. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Cavaletto's We Love PE Blog.

[Image description: Five kids run or walk on a vibrant green field. The kid in front has his mouth wide open and one of his arms punched forward.]

This blog is reposted from Mrs. Cavaletto's Barnes PE blog.

January and February 2016

January was a fast and furious month.  We missed a day and a little due to snow and ice and then it was time to get everything ready for Marathon Kids.  Now, we have over fifty 3rd-5th grade runners meeting every Tuesday and Thursday after school to run laps.  Their goal is to add up all of their miles in the hope of reaching 104.8 by the end of the school year.  It will be tough, but hopefully it will get done.

All of that is possible because of a grant through Let's Move Active Schools, a parent who wanted to volunteer, and a few Nike employees who wanted to volunteer.  Without them we never would have been able to get off the ground.  I hope that I can continue the program each year.  This year Marathon Kids is free for the students via a grant from Let's Move Active Schools and I hope to apply again next year.  If we can get more volunteers we'll be able to support more runners.

In PE we were in our Fit Lab this month where we played "activity pictionary", practiced juggling, and learned about a million dances.  The forth and fifth grade students are now creating their own dance routines in the gym and will then get to play basketball.  The younger students are already working on various basketball skills (dribbling, passing, and shooting).  All classes have done race track fitness.  This is an activity where students work on muscular endurance and balance in the center of the "track" and cardiovascular endurance around the "track".

I have been very impressed with the choreography of the older students.  They have done really well in the short amount of time we've had.  I was out a few days being sick myself and with a sick 2 year old.  I am VERY glad to be back.

As the weather gets nicer I will start a recess running club.  I'm just waiting for the field to be dry enough to run on.  If we run the entire perimeter, it is a quarter mile.  I have different prizes based on the number of miles the students complete.  This will be for all students when I have time during their recess.  For each mile, students receive a toe token.  The five mile prize is a koosh ball, the 10 mile prize is a reaction ball, and the 15 mile prize is a giant frisbee. I'm still working on a 20 mile prize, but the final prize is a water bottle with Barnes Marathoner printed on it.  These prizes are all possible from a grant via the Northwest Health Organization and Oregon Active Schools.  Happy Valentine's Day to all and here's hoping for a dry field soon!

Barnes Elementary is one of Beaverton School District's 33 elementary schools.

 

Oregon Islamic Academy Students Build Bridges

 Photos of Oregon Islamic Academy alumni on a bright blue background.

Muslim Educational Trust (MET)'s Oregon Islamic Academy is much more than a school. It's a launching pad for healthy futures, a sanctuary for Muslim students of all races and socioeconomic classes, a community of people who value learning in many different ways. It's also an excellent example of how culturally-specific education can support a child to succeed.

"I left MET a stronger person in my faith than I think I otherwise would have been. It's hard being a Muslim in today's society, but they helped build our confidence in that aspect of our identities by providing outreach, interfaith, and presentation opportunities for the students," said Mariam Said, an Oregon Islamic Academy class of 2012 alumna who is currently a teaching intern at Milwaukie High School.

Mariam says she has so many good memories of her time at MET, "it has all sort of melded into one warm feeling." She fondly remembers working with everyone in her high school to make a short film for their Islamic Studies project and celebrating graduation on the Portland Spirit.

Oregon Islamic Academy students take Islamic Studies and Arabic classes and pray together in the afternoon. They also take science and art, math and English, participate in service learning days and collaborate with other schools and community organizations. For example, Oregon Islamic Academy has partnered with Oregon Episcopal School on a class called American Story, in which students share and respond to immigrant stories. 

Students who are members of the Youth Ambassadors Club at Oregon Islamic Academy travel to schools throughout the area to give presentations and answer questions about being a Muslim student in Oregon. They've found students and staff at these schools to be very curious and welcoming. Oregon Islamic Academy staff see their students as reversing misconceptions about what an Islamic school is and who graduates from one. They also see their students as bridge builders, from their community to other communities.

When Oregon Islamic Academy was founded, it had 12 students. Today, it has grown to 160 K-12 students, some driving to Tigard every day from as far away as Vancouver, WA, plus a waiting list. Oregon Islamic Academy graduated its first high school class of two students in 2011; this year, it will have graduated 21 seniors since the inception of its high school program in 2007. So far, 100 percent of students have gone on to four-year colleges and have continued to put their faith into action by excelling in all that they do and by being committed, well-engaged citizens of the world.

Muslim Educational Trust is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.

Oregon Active Schools: Hallman Elementary School

This blog is the first in a series of posts written with staff and students at Oregon Active Schools elementary schools. Oregon Active Schools supports programs that inspire a lifelong love of physical activity and its many benefits for every child in Oregon through opportunities to be active before, during and after school.

 

 Kids running around a dirt track.

Here's what Hallman Elementary School staff had to say about Oregon Active Schools:

Q. How did your school use its Oregon Active Schools grant?

A. We used our Oregon Active Schools grant to start and motivate students at recess to run. We purchased charms for students to earn when they complete 20 laps. They continue to build upon this each time they complete 20 laps. Students will receive more charms, water bottles, certificates and more. The top boy and girl runners will win a new pair of shoes at the end of the year.

Q. What sort of changes have you seen in your school related to physical activity?

A. More students are engaged in physical activity at recess. We no longer see kids just standing around talking. Most kids are running or walking and talking around the track. Students seem to be excited to be more active.

Q. Why do you believe physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity provides an outlet for students. It helps to create well-rounded kids. We improve our teaching by reaching the Whole Child.

 

 Three kids lined up in front of an adult. In the background, more kids run on a dirt track.

Here's what Hallman Elementary School students had to say about Oregon Active Schools:

Q. How has school changed since Oregon Active Schools started at your school?

A. At recess more kids run. They use to just talk.

Q. What is your favorite part about recess?

A. Running. You can earn charms.

Q. Why do you think physical activity in schools is important?

A. Physical activity can help you learn more and feel good.

 

Hallman Elementary School is one of Salem-Keizer Public Schools' 42 elementary schools.

"We are all born (in)."

'Together, we can erase the divide between “us” and “them” and celebrate schools and communities where all individuals are embraced and included.'

 A mapping exercise from the 10th Annual All Born (In) Conference.

A mapping exercise from the 10th Annual All Born (In) Conference.

On April 23rd, 2016, Northwest Down Syndrome Association (NWDSA) and All Born (In) will host their 11th annual All Born (In) regional cross-disability conference. This conference—aimed at parents, educators, providers, self advocates and civic leaders—teaches best practices for embracing disability and reaching and teaching all people.

 Three women pose for the camera in a crowded conference room. Two appear to have Down Syndrome; one is in a wheelchair.

NWDSA and All Born (In), sister organizations, believe in full inclusion and public understanding and acceptance. They are tireless advocates for inclusive education. For example, they offer a Kindergarten Transition Workshop to help parents of young children with developmental disabilities become advocates for their kids at school. NWDSA/ABI also led Think College Inclusion Oregon—a coalition of middle and high school students, families, education professionals and Portland State University faculty—to seek funding for an inclusive college program at PSU. They succeeded in obtaining a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement the program.

"Special education is supposed to be a service, not a place," said All Born (In) Executive Director Angela Jarvis-Holland in a recent article in The Portland Tribune

 One woman speaking into a microphone, one woman signing.

The 2016 All Born (In) Conference will include more than 30 workshops on a range of topics, everything from "Behavior in the Early Years: Ideas for When the Going Gets Tough" to "Economic Freedom and Rights." There will also be two keynote speeches by Dr. Richard A. Villa and Keith Jones.

We at Northwest Health Foundation are particularly excited about Keith Jones' keynote "Soul Touching Work to Increase Access, Inclusion, and Empowerment at the Intersection of Race and Disability." Keith Jones is a disability rights activist, composer, producer and hip hop artist. He also identifies as a person with a disability. 

You can get tickets for All Born (In) Conference here.

Northwest Down Syndrome Association is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.

At Open School, the Racial Achievement Gap is Zero

 Two youth sitting on a table, looking over their shoulders at a poster with a poem in two languages.

Oregon's high school graduation rate of 74% is one of the worst in the nation. That number is even lower for students of color and students in families struggling to make ends meet. But some Oregon schools are leading the way in improving academic achievement, especially for students facing inequities. One of these is Open School.

Open School has closed the achievement gap between white students and students of color. Nationally, the gap is 25%. At Open School, the gap is zero.

Here's an example of what Open School does for its students:

In sixth grade, Guillermo exhibited multiple warning signs that suggested he might drop out early. Guillermo's counselor contacted his family and suggested that they enroll Guillermo in Open School East. They were hesitant at first, but eventually agreed. 

 Several kids of various races and ethnicities lined up on a hillside.

After giving the counselor permission to give their information to Open School East, Open School's enrollment coordinator reached out to Guillermo’s family. In no time, a visit was scheduled where the coordinator, Guillermo and his parents could all sit down and talk in Guillermo’s home. 

At the end of 6th grade, Guillermo was scoring at the 3rd grade level in both reading and math, and he was receiving ELL supports as a non-native English speaker. His parents, both undocumented immigrants, were unfamiliar with the system and unsure of how to navigate and advocate for their child without drawing attention to their undocumented status. Their fears for the success of their child won out over their fears of deportation. The entire family attended an Open School enrollment night, and they enrolled Guillermo for the 2014 school year.

 Teacher and student bending over a worksheet.

By the summer of 2015, after lots of hard work, constant communication and an abundance of mutual support, several things had changed for Guillermo and his parents: 

  • On his year-end benchmark tests in 2015, Guillermo met or exceeded grade level in both Math and English.
  • Guillermo no longer needs official ELL supports, having passed the English Language Proficiency Assessment with flying colors. 
  • Guillermo has even met the Smarter Balance benchmark, which is currently believed to be harder than other benchmarks. 
  • Guillermo’s parents have become models for family engagement and participation, and have become leaders in the Open School East community. They have spoken as parent-reps for Open School East to the Gresham-Barlow School District board of directors; volunteered to act as liaisons to similar new Open School East families, working from their own experiences to create an atmosphere of welcome, reassurance and safety for other undocumented families; and participated actively by leading efforts to start a culturally-specific Latino Families group. 

How does Open School do it? In many ways. They center their work around equity. They use restorative justice practices to resolve conflict. They take time for Art and Movement. They regularly engage with students' families. They listen to students and their families. And so much more! Guillermo is just one of many students whose futures have changed thanks to Open School. 

Open School is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partner.

Check Out Our Partners in Willamette Week's 2015 Give!Guide

It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,250,000 total for 143 deserving Portland nonprofits.

Several of those 143 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. Check them out! We've included five below, and you can find more in our Grants Archive. These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.

 

Adelante Mujeres provides holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. Their programs include child and adult education, youth leadership, business development, a farmers market and more! Most recently, NWHF awarded Adelante Mujeres a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) grant for ESPERE, a program aimed at addressing the issue of individual, familial and societal violence among Latino immigrant families.

 

Hacienda CDC is a Latino Community Development Corporation that strengthens families by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities. This year, Hacienda CDC opened the Portland Mercado, Portland's first Latino public market. A KPCF grant helped fund the establishment of this economic and cultural hub in SE Portland.  

 

Latino Network provides transformative opportunities, services and advocacy for the education, leadership and civic engagement of our youth, families and communities. NWHF supports Latino Network through a KPCF grant to Juntos Aprendemos, a program that prepares 3-5 year olds for success in kindergarten and equips parents with the skills and confidence to be their child’s first teachers.

 

REACH provides quality, affordable housing for individuals, families and communities to thrive. Recently, REACH completed an affordable housing project called Orchards at Orenco, which won recognition for being the largest multi-family Passive House building in the United States. KPCF funded REACH to investigate strategies and best practices to develop and implement a paid job training program for REACH residents. 

 

Village Gardens brings a spirit of hope to the people by growing and sharing healthy food, learning and teaching skills, and empowering community leadership. Village Gardens includes individual and family garden plots, employment opportunities for adults and teens, after-school and summer activities for children, homework clubs, an emerging livestock project, a Community Health Worker program, and a youth-run entrepreneurial business. KPCF is funding Village Gardens to launch a community driven network of food based micro enterprises.

 

Children's Institute Combats Chronic Absence

 Adult and child high-fiving in a school hallway.

Chronic absence is a huge problem in Oregon. Last year, one out of every six students was chronically absent. That means almost 94,000 students missed at least one out of every ten school days. Data shows, these kids are more likely to perform poorly academically, as well as drop out before high school graduation.

This isn't okay, and the Children's Institute is determined that Oregon do better for its children. First step, spread awareness of the issue.

Because many schools don't even track chronic absence among their students, educators and families often don't realize how big an issue it is. That's why the Children's Institute worked with the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) to collect and release data about chronic absence in Oregon during the 2014-15 school year. As hoped, ODE's data has put the problem of chronic absence on the radar for school districts and communities across the state.

One of the key findings of their research was this: attendance habits in kindergarten can predict attendance habits and academic performance in high school. That brings us to step two of the Children's Institute's plan to combat chronic absence.

 Young child with both hands raised.

The Children's Institute has partnered with two schools (Early Boyles Elementary and Yoncalla Elementary) to establish and run two Early Works preschool programs. By making attendance a priority early on, Early Works helps families and students establish good habits that will carry through kindergarten and beyond. As an example of the impact they're making, in 2014-15, students in the Earl Boyles preschool program averaged a 94 percent attendance rate.

Thanks to ODE, the Children's Institute and the Oregon schools that have already experimented with intervention programs, we have plenty of data and good examples to learn from. We know which groups of students have the highest rates of chronic absence (Native Americans, special education students, low-income students and Pacific Islanders), so we can focus our efforts accordingly. And we know that the best way to combat chronic absence is with early family engagement in preschool and kindergarten.

Learn more in the Children's Institute's Showing Up, Staying In report.

The Children's Institute is a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund partner. They have also received funding through Northwest Health Foundation Sponsorships and the President's Opportunity Fund.

"It's not what's wrong with people, but rather what happens to them."

 Healthy Living Collaborative's first group of graduating Community Health Workers. Matti is the one in the red sweater.

Healthy Living Collaborative's first group of graduating Community Health Workers. Matti is the one in the red sweater.

Community Health Workers (CHWs) of the Healthy Living Collaborative of Southwest Washington (HLC) come from the communities they work in. A combination of health training and community understanding make HLC's CHWs ideal connectors for community members and health systems. They have the knowledge and resources people need, as well as the trust of the people they are working with.

Matti Neal is one of those Community Health Workers. She graduated from HLC's first round of CHW training, and she was one of only 25 CHWs in Washington state selected to participate in Healthy Generations' NEAR Expert Presenter and Coach Education cohort.

NEAR is the study of the intersection between neuroscience, epigenetics, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience, or, as Matti explained, "It's not what's wrong with people, but rather what happens to them." 

Here's what Matti learned at the training:

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences are a major determinant of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, mental challenges, drug abuse, chronic disease and success in education.
  • The first step toward healing comes with awareness, education and understanding of the problem, which often requires a change in thinking.
  • The dynamics that lead to high ACEs scores can improve with the support of community resources, trusted relationships, thriving communities, respect, faith and culture.
  • And community organizing and policy advocacy can lead to improved health for an entire community.

Matti's greatest takeaway? Everyone can make a difference in someone's life, or even in the health of a whole neighborhood. Anyone can make a positive impact on community health and help to change policies. In addition, Matti's understanding of ACEs has led her to become more compassionate. She makes an effort to learn a person's story before jumping to conclusions. 

The NEAR training has inspired Matti to pursue further education in the area of mental illness, addiction and recovery counseling. It has also led HLC's CHWs to plan community education and events incorporating many of the learnings that Matti brought back to the community.