Tacoma among five communities nationwide recognized for outstanding progress in strengthening local education pipeline
TACOMA, WASH. — Graduate Tacoma today joins just four other communities in the nation to receive the highest possible designation from StriveTogether, as the partnership unveiled dramatic improvement of outcomes at all stages of Tacoma’s education pipeline — including a 53 percent increase in high school graduation rates to a record high of 89 percent. StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to improve education for every child, made the announcement today, recognizing Tacoma as a national model among Cradle to Career Network communities.
“It is our obligation as Americans to provide every child with the opportunity to succeed in life through a quality education, and today we are thrilled to recognize the remarkable results achieved in Tacoma through both the work of local partners and participation in our Cradle to Career Network,” StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz said. “As exciting as these results are, there is still tremendous work to be done. StriveTogether is more committed than ever to improving education and economic mobility for children and families across the country.”
“From a 53 percent increase in high school graduation, to addressing major racial disparities in graduation rates, Graduate Tacoma is proof that this work creates real, tangible change,” Foundation for Tacoma Students (FFTS) President and CEO Eric Wilson said. “This designation is a welcome acknowledgment of the hard work, leadership and dedication of more than 240 community partners who make up this movement, and of our notable progress toward achieving our goal of having 50 percent of graduates completing a postsecondary education by the Class of 2020.”
Communities in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network track and improve outcomes for major milestones in a child’s life. The work of each community partnership is coordinated by a local organization — in Tacoma’s case, FFTS is the backbone organization for the Graduate Tacoma movement, working in close collaboration with more than 240 community partner organizations and Tacoma Public Schools (TPS).
The Graduate Tacoma movement has made notable progress in the following areas:
- Increasing the five-year extended high school graduation rate to a record high 89 percent for the Class of 2016 from 58 percent for the Class of 2010. This is the third year in a row in which Tacoma has surpassed the state average, with significant gains across every demographic since 2010: Asian +29 points; Black +32; Hispanic +41; Multiracial +12; Native American +40; Pacific Islander +61; White +27.
- Closing the five-year graduation gap between White students and students of color, including Black students (92 percent) graduating at a rate 3 percent higher than White students (89 percent), and the gap narrowing from 17 percent to 3 percent for Hispanic students.
- More than doubling summer program slots filled from 5,616 to 11,456 and nearly doubling the number of summer learning participants from 3,645 to 6,491.
- Using student-level data to design interventions along the path to graduation and beyond. Tacoma students now rank second in the state in their application for and award of Washington State Opportunity Scholarships, which offer up to $22,500 as well as professional development workshops and industry exposure to students from low- and middle-income households to attain bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
- Working with a coalition of community partners toward Tacoma’s selection as one of six communities chosen for a national Wallace Foundation grant to support social-emotional learning for students throughout the community. The project, managed by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and TPS, also includes leadership from community partners, including School’s Out Washington and the University of Washington-Tacoma.
The other communities that already have received StriveTogether’s highest recognition include Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (StrivePartnership), Dallas County (The Commit Partnership), Portland/Multnomah County (All Hands Raised) and Racine County (Higher Expectations for Racine County). In 2015, StriveTogether set a goal to have five communities achieve this top designation by 2018. The five communities reached this goal through the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund, which combines a results-based leadership program with strategic assistance and financial support.
Now, thanks to a major funding commitment from Ballmer Group, the Cradle to Career Network will be able to incentivize even faster progress for member communities through a community challenge fund, with $10 million annually in investment over the next six years. Ballmer Group is an organization co-founded by philanthropist Connie Ballmer and her husband Steve Ballmer, chairman of the LA Clippers and former CEO of Microsoft. Ballmer Group works to improve economic mobility for children and families in the U.S. who are disproportionately likely to remain in poverty.
StriveTogether leads a national movement of nearly 70 communities to get better results in every child’s life. We coach and connect partners across the country to close gaps by using local data, especially for children of color and low-income children. Communities using our proven approach have seen measurable gains in kindergarten readiness, academic achievement and postsecondary success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.4 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington, D.C.
About the Foundation for Tacoma Students/Graduate Tacoma
The Foundation for Tacoma Students leads the Graduate Tacoma movement, convening more than 240 community partners to drive dramatic improvements in achievement for all Tacoma students, regardless of background. In 2010, Tacoma’s graduation rate was at 55 percent. Today, in alignment with Tacoma Public Schools, the Foundation leads educators and parents, early learning and higher education institutions, youth and community services, business and labor, philanthropic and civic organizations, local government and communities of faith toward our community-built goal: Increase Tacoma’s graduation rate 50 percent by 2020, while eliminating gaps in access, opportunities and achievement for all students.