Gonzaga

BRIEF: Gonzaga receives $400,000 grant to improve education in N.E. Spokane

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Gonzaga
Gonzaga

Gonzaga University – in partnership with Spokane Public Schools, Communities in Schools, Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County, and Washington State University – has received a $400,000 grant to lead the Hillyard Youth Collaborative, a new model designed to catalyze and coordinate community efforts to ensure students complete high school.

The three-year grant, funded by Community Partners for Middle School Success (CPMSS), aims to ensure educational success for students at Shaw and Garry middle schools in northeast Spokane. According to a press release, the collaborative will identify at-risk students, design interventions for them, and evaluate those interventions. Long term, the effort is expected to increase graduation rates at Rogers High School, and increase the number of Rogers graduates enrolling in post-secondary education.

Gonzaga’s School of Education faculty and students will provide in- and out-of-school support for teachers and youth during the academic year and summer sessions. The GU Center for Community Action and Service-Learning (CCASL) mentoring programs (in- and out-of-school) and service-learning students will provide social and academic support and family engagement strategies. Communities in Schools will provide case-management and family support, while the Boys & Girls Clubs will add Saturday services and increase access to after-school and Saturday programming (at its northeast facility). WSU will play a key role in the project evaluation.

This project builds on the work initiated by Priority Spokane, a collaborative of community leaders working to create a vibrant future for Spokane County. In 2009, Priority Spokane identified “increasing high school graduation rates” as its top community priority.

Of all the students at Shaw and Garry middle schools, approximately 10 percent are at higher risk of dropping out due to attendance issues, while around 15 percent are at higher risk due to behavior or course completion issues. An estimated 200 seventh-graders at Shaw and Garry middle schools will be targeted for community and school-based supports, according to a press release.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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