Multnomah County Shines as a National Example
January 24, 2017
Dear Friends –
We are thrilled to share the news that our community’s shared work to ensure all kids achieve their full potential recently received a prominent accolade. In December, the All Hands Raised Partnership was recognized by the national StriveTogether Network with their highest designation–that of a “Proof Point” community. Multnomah County is only the fourth community, of the 70 in the national network, to earn this recognition. Proof Point communities demonstrate that systems are changing and outcomes are improving on a community-wide level.
The number one priority of this work remains unchanged from the founding of the Partnership on November 30, 2010: racial educational equity. Our community’s progress on closing gaps is meaningful:
- The countywide graduation rate has climbed 9 percentage points since 2012, outpacing the state of Oregon, our neighbors to the north in Washington State and the nation as a whole. Our growth has largely been driven by students of color, with a gain of 14 points for African American students; 12 points for American Indian/Alaska Native students; 11 points for Latino students; 9 points for Pacific Islander students; and 9 points for Asian students. White students improved by 7 points and Multi-racial students improved by 4 points.
- Thirty-one percent fewer students of color were suspended or expelled in local schools in 2015-16 compared with four years earlier.
- Student attendance has improved and gaps have narrowed on each of our three attendance metrics–kindergarten, sixth and ninth grade.
- All seven of our partner Multnomah County school district boards passed equity policies, ensuring racial equity remains a top priority for the entire county.
In fact, this community is seeing improvement across all six of the outcomes that StriveTogether measures. These high-level improvements represent the sum total of individual efforts in local schools and neighborhoods across our seven partner school districts–Centennial, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow, MESD, Parkrose, Portland Public Schools and Reynolds. My team and I are privileged to see these improvements first-hand as we work alongside school community teams at sites like Reynolds Middle School, which drove down discipline referrals of African-American students by 38%; Madison High School, which increased its FAFSA completion rate by 13 percentage points; and Shaver Elementary School where the percentage of Latino students regularly attending school is up nine points compared to this same point last year.
We are making progress because as a community we are focused. With the release of Oregon’s 2017 graduation data tomorrow we anticipate improvement, while also acknowledging that inequities will undoubtedly persist. Culture change is not easy. Bridging the communication gap between sectors–especially funders and practitioners–is critical if we are committed to real and lasting system change.
Together, through three Portland mayors, five Multnomah County Chairs, 18 superintendents (across seven partner districts), and scores of major transitions in key post-secondary, community impact and private sector leadership positions, the All Hands Raised Partnership in Multnomah County continues to evolve, remain focused on the kids, and serve as a model that is attracting attention from good people across the nation. You can see some of our most recent updates on the impact of our work here. Thank you for continuing to raise your hand to find your role and be a part of the solutions.
In deep gratitude,
PS – Our local work is being highlighted this week at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting happening in Switzerland, you can read the blog post here.