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Southern Oregon TWST Kick-off
Welcome to the first day of our southern Oregon Two Way Street Tour in Jackson, Josephine, and Curry counties. It's great to be on the road with you all again. I am so excited because I will have the pleasure of introducing you to some of our funding partners who will be joining me at stops in White City, Ashland, Grants Pass, Gold Beach and Brookings.
This afternoon, Amy Cuddy, Senior Program Officer at Oregon Community Foundation, Kathy Bryon, Program Officer with Gordon Elwood Foundation, and Talia Mettius, Education Impact Director of United Way of Jackson County were our guest speakers. We joined a group of about a dozen community members for a lively conversation at White City Elementary School.
I have to give a shout our to Kim Saiz and Nicolle Barnes at WC school for making us feel welcome while helping to manage the constant flow of traffic of children, parents, and educators in the front office. Thank you Kim and Nicolle for your great management skills! And, thank you Principal Ginny Walker for making her school available to us, she is the one on the far right in our group photo below.
Kim Saiz and Nicolle Barnes at White City school
Amy will take over today's blog post from here...
TWST in White City
When Principal Ginny Walker arrived at White City Elementary School in 1998, the student body was 6% Latino. Fast forward fifteen years, and today the student body is nearly 50% Latino. It would be difficult for any organization or any community to keep up with that pace of change! And it’s particularly challenging in White City, where there are many needs and relatively few resources: 87% of Mrs. Walker’s students are on free and reduced price lunch, 35% are English Language Learners and 16% are in special education.
The White City Elementary PTO has some passionate members, three of whom joined our meeting. The PTO members are committed to popcorn Fridays, family movie nights and other school-community activities, but they wonder where the serious money will come from to repair the faulty drainage system that means the school playground floods whenever there’s a hard rain.
In a week when the government shut-down is on everyone’s mind, there was lots of conversation at the TWST meeting about the role of philanthropy, the role of the public sector, and the relationship between the two. Several of the dozen or so attendees are working in new partnerships spurred on by education reform in Oregon and wondering how best to communicate new projects and alignments to funders – and wondering if grant programs are open to new models.
Other TWST participants described their efforts to address the needs of homeless youth, to create a parks and recreation district in an unincorporated area, to increase family literacy for Latino families, to reach out to veterans, and to prevent suicide. As one nonprofit leader observed, “there’s a new saying that ‘talent is universal, but opportunity is not’ … so that’s what we’re all working on, creating more opportunity.” So much good work being done in Southern Oregon! And much of that work has been or will be supported by Oregon’s foundations and by Oregon citizens.
But who will pay for the playground improvements? Who should?
One last photo and comment from Sally before we say good night. Kathy Bryon took me to Elements Tapas Bar in Oldtown Medford, a great spot offering locally sourced foods. They couple who operate it were raised in this area then left for a bit to experience life elsewhere and recently found there way back home.
See you all in Ashland tomorrow!
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